HFMD eases in Vietnam, dengue and H5N1 take stage

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Vietnam's Health Ministry said the spread of hand, foot, and mouth disease is cooling its heels as dengue infects more people and bird flu threaten to recur.

The number of new HFMD cases has dropped and caused six deaths in July.

The ministry's Preventive Health Department reported 7,461 infections in July, a 49.2 percent drop from June. The death rate meanwhile is nearly six times lower than the same period last year, news website VietNamNet reported Monday.

Local governments were asked to stay vigilant to contain any new outbreaks and the spread of current ones.

Vietnam recorded 57,900 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease over the first half of this year, including 29 casualties, the department said in a report. Last year, 110,000 people were infected including 169 deaths.

Most of the patients are children under five years old, falling sick first with mouth sores and blisters on the hands and feet.

The disease, which has no vaccine or specific medication, is caused by the Enterovirus, but health officials said HFMD in Vietnam is plagued by the most dangerous strain EV-71, which has caused all the fatalities and around 80 percent of the infections this year.

Meanwhile, the department warned about dengue fever outbreaks in southern Vietnam, where monsoon season has just begun.

A report from the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City listed 11 deaths out of 21,215 dengue fever cases in the south this year, a 20 percent increase year-on-year, according to a Nhan Dan report July 2. Three of the deaths and nearly 5,000 of the infections were from Ho Chi Minh City.

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The bird flu outbreak is also likely to recur as sick fowl were reported in northern Vietnam in recent months.

Four people were infected with the virus in February and March, including two fatal cases from the Mekong Delta, one from Binh Duong Province outside Ho Chi Minh City and another from the Central Highlands' Dak Lak Province.

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