Lack of Awareness Spreads Acute Diarrhea, Ministry Says

Contaminated water, high-risk food and low public awareness are some of the reasons for the continued spread of acute diarrhea in the North, said Dr. Tran Dang, head of the Vietnam Food Administration and a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

Vendors at roadside eateries do not wear gloves or wash their hands and 80 percent have the E. coli bacteria on their hands.

Farmers in Ha Noi, Ha Tay, Vinh Phuc still spread night soil mixed with water on their vegetable fields, according to a survey carried out by the ministry. Even after cleaning with water, coliforms, including E. coli, and the Vibrio cholera virus are still found on vegetables.

Shrimp paste, considered the primary cause of the diarrhea outbreak at the end of 2007, is made in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.

Shrimp paste is contaminated during the dilution procedure before being put on the market.

Due to low public awareness, some people eat raw food such as duck pudding, vegetables, shrimp paste, dog meat and ice water.

More critically, people do not wash their hands before eating and after going to toilet. Only 12 percent of residents wash their hands with soap, according to the survey.

Vendors at roadside eateries do not wear gloves or wash their hands and 80 percent have the E. coli bacteria on their hands.

The acute diarrhea epidemic has hit 12 provinces and cities nationwide, according to the ministry. This includes Ha Noi; Hai Phong; the northern provinces of Ha Tay, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Phu Tho, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Vinh Phuc and Hai Duong; and the central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Quang Binh.

By Q. Lap, Q. Kh - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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