Medical workers struggle to contain spread of HFMD

More than 460,000 hand-foot-mouth cases have been reported in the   country since the beginning of 2012, with 27 fatalities, but till now the disease has not been contained.

Why the disease is developing into a complicated strain and the various difficulties in preventing it from spreading were topics of grave concern at an online meeting held by the Ministry of Health with 19 provinces and cities across the country on May 25.

Tran Thanh Duong, deputy head of the ministry’s Department of Preventive Medicine, said that across 63 provinces and cities in the country, 46,277 people had become infected with the disease since the beginning of the year, including 27 fatalities.

Apart from that, in May alone, an additional 6,569 people were reported infected with hand-foot-mouth disease, said Duong.

Cities and provinces with the most number of new HFMD cases include the northern provinces of Thanh Hoa, Hai Phong, Phu Tho, Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, Thai Binh, Yen Bai, Lang Son, Hanoi; the central city of Da Nang and Binh Dinh Province; the highland province of Dak Lak; the southern provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City.

Deputy Health Minister Tran Thanh Long stated that despite a lower number of cases in 2012, medical workers are facing difficulties in verifying the disease, and hence unable to warn of the spread of the disease.

In addition, most deaths in Vietnam were caused by Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which accounted for 90 per cent of cases this year while last year the rate was only 20 per cent, added the deputy health minister.

Long warned of the spread of the dangerous virus Enterovirus 71 from the south to the north, expressing his concern about preventive measures and low awareness in parents of the disease.

Representatives from the HCMC Department of Health said the habit of washing hands with soap is not a regular feature, even though medical workers have distributed chemicals and soaps to each household along with proper instructions.

Noticeably, most cases are from highly urbanized areas where many workers live in rented houses, whose lifestyles are of relatively low standards.

Meanwhile, An Giang Province in the west has reported an increase in the disease among people, despite cleanliness of the environment and strict monitoring of the outbreaks. The province has reported a high fatality rate. Hence, An Giang Povince has proposed to the ministry to provide more anti-HFM treatment facilities to contain the disease.

Tran Minh Dien, deputy director of the National Children Hospital in Hanoi, said the number of level 2 patients has leaped since the beginning of the year in his hospital; accordingly, he has petitioned a more detailed treatment graph for hospitals.

Dr. Nguyen Van Kinh, director of the National Tropical Disease Hospital, emphasised on the importance of classification into several different levels in treatment and early diagnose.

Nguyen Tran Hien, head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said the situation surrounding the disease has come on stronger and earlier in 2012 than in previous years. In previous years, HFMD tended to peak during two periods: from April to May and from August to September.

Last year saw about 112,000 HFMD cases along with 169 fatalities, while the first six months of this year has already recorded this number so far.

By K. Nguyen - Translated by Nha Uyen

Other news