Global plague infections raise concerns in Vietnam

By Lien Chau, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam’s health authorities issued a national health warning following a World Health Organization announcement of 19 confirmed bubonic plague cases this Fall.
On Monday, Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department asked municipal and provincial Health Departments to enhance control measures for the disease, which the country has been free of for 12 years.
Phu said the World Health Organization confirmed 119 plague cases in the past three months.
Out of 47 fatal cases reported in Madagascar around two percent were airborne, which is much more fatal than septicemic plague, in which one dies because from blood contamination.
“The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide used to control fleas) that has been observed in the country,” the WHO said in a statement issued last week.
The US earlier has also reported four flea and rodent-borne plague cases in Colorado.
In July, the China National Health and Family Planning Commission announced that a 38-year-old man from Yumen city in the poor northwestern province of Gansu had died from a case of respiratory plague.
Bubonic plague is usually transmitted through an infected flea bite, but also by direct contact with infected tissue or exposure to the cough of a patient.
Phu asked local health officials to keep a close eye out for wild animals, particularly rats.
He also called for close inspection of individuals and animals entering Vietnam from outside the country, especially from the infected areas.
“Vietnam hasn't had a case of bubonic plague for 12 years, but the threat of it entering the country is large, particularly in vehicles and people coming from infected areas,” he said.
Treatment primarily involves antibiotics, then oxygen, intravenous fluids, and respiratory support.
The fatality rate among treated cases is between 1 – 15 percent, and 40 – 60 percent among untreated cases.

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