Contaminated surface water threatens cholera outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City

By Minh Hung, Thanh Nien News

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A latrine at the back of a house in Ho Chi Minh City's Le Minh Xuan Commune where local residents dischage waste directly into the water. Photo: Minh Hung A latrine at the back of a house in Ho Chi Minh City's Le Minh Xuan Commune where local residents dischage waste directly into the water. Photo: Minh Hung

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Latrines built on ponds and rivers threaten to cause acute diarrhea outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City where many continue to rely on surface water to wash and clean, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien warned.
“We've found traces of fecal bacteria in water at concentrations ten times higher than safe levels,” she said at a meeting with the city authorities on August 5.
Another source of Cholera is Coliform bacteria, which is common in districts 8, Nha Be and Can Gio, she said.
“Cholera quickly explodes into a major outbreak. In the long term, it can spread and develop new and more fatal strains. I suggest that we take determined action for the safety of a city of more than eight million people,” she said.
Tien recommended that HCMC supply clean water widely on its outskirts, remove latrines built on ponds and rivers and improve environmental sanitation.
According to the health ministry, HCMC still has more than 3,000 latrines built on ponds and rivers, mostly on the outskirts in places like Binh Chanh District and District 12.
On Monday, Minister Tien led an entourage to visit the residents in Binh Chanh’s Le Minh Xuan Commune, which suffered an outbreak of acute diarrhea, last month, that claimed the lives of two infants and sent seven others to hospital.
Many residents in one of the commune's neighborhoods said they had no tap water. Instead, they have used surface water to clean and wash in an area where outdoor latrines continue to discharge directly into ponds and rivers.
Tests conducted following the mid-July outbreak found patients had contracted Coliform bacteria.

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