Anthrax disease hits northern Vietnam highlands

TN News

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Many people in Vietnam's northern highlands have been infected with the lethal anthrax disease in recent months, theVietnam News Agency (VNA) quoted a health official as saying Wednesday.

According to the news source, the highly infectious disease, caused by bacillus anthracis bacterium, first appeared in Lai Chau province, where it has since infected 25 people aged between three years and 50 years plus so far.

One of them died due to late hospitalization, it reported

After Lai Chau, other provinces like Dien Bien and Ha Giang reported many cases.

Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan told VNA in an interview that people had contracted the disease from sick cattle.

Investigations carried out in Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces show that the patients came into in contact with sick cattle when butchering and eating their meat which was undercooked. 

Huan also said the provinces were already stricken by the disease earlier, but because locals failed to properly bury cattle dying of the disease, the bacterium, which can live for between 30-40 years at air temperatures and is still able to cause infections, attach themselves to grass. So more cattle would get sick after eating the affected grass.

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In response to the outbreak, the Department of Preventive Health has sent a letter to Lai Chau province, asking it to tighten measures to prevent the bacterium from infecting humans, VNA reported.

According to Huan, people develop symptoms like skin lesions, high fever, blood poisoning and even critical pneumonia, from anywhere between 12 hours and three-five days after getting infected.

Effective vaccines against anthrax and antibiotics for treatment are currently available in Vietnam.

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