The Ministry of Health has warned people against the spread of rabies, which has claimed 77 lives this year in the northern mountainous provinces.
After seeing a steady fall in the number of rabies cases for the last five years, rabies is again on the rise in the northern mountainous provinces, with Son La reporting 17 cases; Phu Tho reporting 12 cases; Yen Bai having 8 cases and Ha Giang reporting 9 cases.
Up to 96 percent of rabies cases in humans can be traced back to unvaccinated dogs. Public awareness of rabies and preventive measures against it are still very low and little is spent on anti-rabies vaccines.
Rabies is caused through transmission of an animal bite, and remains one of those diseases that have been ignored in Vietnam, although it has claimed a heavy toll, according to one scientist.
Along with rabies, the number of people infected with hand-foot-mouth disease and dengue fever is also increasing. The hand-foot-mouth disease has affected about 110,000 people, with 41 fatalities in 15 provinces and cities so far this year, about 10 times higher than in the same period last year.
In the first two weeks of October alone, the country reported nearly 6,000 hand-foot-mouth cases and one death.
HFMD is a common viral illness among infants and children that causes a fever and blister-like eruptions around the mouth and could be accompanied with a skin rash. In Vietnam, the most common strain is Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes sores on the mouth and blisters on the hands and feet of patients.
The ministry has asked local authorities to use their budget to buy antiseptics and soaps for every household in the affected areas. Children under five-years-of-age are most vulnerable to the disease; and the main preventive measure is to maintain clean hygiene while eating, drinking and daily life.
People should wash their children’s hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after they use the toilet and before they eat their meals. They should also keep their children’s toys clean and restrain them from putting any toys or other tools into their mouths, experts said.
Dengue fever too has affected more than 58,000 people in 63 provinces and cities with 48 people succumbing to the disease. Currently, people most affected by dengue fever are residents of South and Central Vietnam.