Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The recent return of the influenza virus in HCM City has worried many people but health experts insist that a possible epidemic is unlikely.
They say if people get vaccinated, the chances of them falling ill are low.
The city’s Chợ Rẫy Hospital revealed 12 patients have been infected with the influenza virus A/H1N1. This makes it the second swine flu hotspot in the city this month after the Từ Dũ obstetrics hospital.
The virus was detected in the Nephrology Department of the hospital after five kidney patients tested positive earlier this month.
On June 1, 16 people at Từ Dũ Hospital also tested positive after an infected woman was admitted for a gynecological procedure. The hospital subsequently quarantined more than 80 patients and staff members that it deemed at risk and isolated the Laparoscopy Department for three days for disinfection. The situation is said to be now under control.
The HCM City Preventive Health Centre said a 29-year-old female patient from Thủ Đức District died from swine flu on May 30 after five days of self-treatment at home, making her the first swine flu casualty reported in the country in two years.
The emergence of afflicted patients has prompted many people to get vaccine shots against the virus.
The Việt Nam Vaccine JSC reported that its vaccination centre in HCM City treated between 100 and 200 people against influenza each day this month.
The number of people get vaccinated at other centres in the city has also increased.
Nguyễn Thị Mai, a resident in District 12, told Vietnamplus online newspaper she was very worried about the resurfacing of the influenza virus as she was pregnant.
“It is easy for pregnant women like me to be infected with influenza virus. I am so scared and rarely go outside now,” she said.
However, health experts said people should not be too worried.
Head of HCM City Pasteur Institute Phan Trọng Lân said the number of A/H1N1 patients was higher than previous years because of lower vaccination rate. At present, the vaccination rate against influenza in Việt Nam was low, around less than 1 per cent of the total population.
He said patients suffering from A/H1N1 flu in particular and seasonal flu in general would normally recover after a week. However, he warned that pregnant women, infants and young children under two years old and old people over 65 were among the groups being at elevated risks of complications arising from flu.
Complications could be fatal without appropriate and timely treatment, according to Lân.
Doctor Trương Hữu Khanh from HCM City Children’s Hospital 1 said A/H1N1 flu was infectious but fatalities only happen to those who had weak immune systems.
Analysis and tests showed that this is the old type of the H1N1 virus that broke out worldwide in 2009 and vaccination against the virus was successfully produced, according to Khanh.
It could only cause an epidemic if a new type of flu virus appeared with a modified structure, he said.
Doctor Lê Quốc Hùng from Chợ Rẫy Hospital said this was the start of the rainy season and also the peak of the flu season so the appearance of the A/H1N1 flu was understandable. Việt Nam records more than a million cases of flu each year and A/H1N1 was just a normal kind of flu.
Vaccination is the most effective measure to prevent the disease, according to the experts.
The Health Preventive Medicine Centre urged everyone, especially children, the elderly, pregnant women, obese people, and those with chronic conditions to be vaccinated; take extra care of their personal hygiene; avoid coming into contact with people with flu symptoms; and seek medical help if they have swine flu symptoms.
Swine flu is a mild seasonal flu with typical symptoms being high fever, coughing, headaches, muscle pain, sore throat, and runny nose.
It is spread through the respiratory system when a patient sneezes, coughs or comes into contact with objects contaminated by the virus.
Most infected people can recover in a week without special treatment. — VNS