Measles deaths hit 133 in Hanoi as HCMC braces for Chickenpox, HFMD

Thanh Nien News

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Health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien visited an infant measles patient at the Tropical Diseases Hospital in Hanoi on April 25. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE

The Health Ministry confirmed two more measles deaths in Hanoi last Friday raising this year's fatalities to 133.
The two infants succumbed to the virus at the Bach Mai and Central Pediatrics Hospital during a citywide tour of health facilities by Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, which included the Hanoi Tropical Diseases Hospital, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Ho Thi Bich, a nurse employed at the pediatric hospital which reported 110 measles deaths this year said Tien has gotten to witness the painful situation.
“After more than four years working at the hospital, this is the first time I’ve seen so many deaths from a single outbreak,” Bich said who is five months pregnant.
She said many of the fatal cases are twins and the hospital usually can only save one of them.
“I remember the recent twins An Phong and An Phu. They were so adorable and chubby' now one’s gone.”
The intensive care unit at Bach Mai Hospital, which has lost seven children, is usually full of sobs and prayers.
Pham Thi Bich anxiously observes the treatment of her  4-month-old son; she just finished burying his twin sister, who died of measles here.
The mother said her daughter and many other children succumbed soon after they were put on respirators, so she's been a wreck ever since her son was put on one.
During a recent conference, doctors from all over the country attributed the fatalities and severe cases from this year's measles outbreak  to the virus' virulent attacks on its victims lungs.
In previous years, the virus had mostly caused cerebral swelling and fever.
Though the virus has always been dangerous to infants, compromising a child's respiratory system has proven far more fatal. 
As she shed uncontrollable tears, Bich recalled how doctors had said her boy had shown signs of recovery in the past two days and she hoped that would mean a higher chance of survival than his sister.
“My husband and I sought treatment everywhere," she said. "It took seven years to conceive two of them, and now one’s gone.”
Lying alongside her son was a 9-month-old boy from nearby Bac Ninh Province. His skin rash-addled skin has been shedding in large swathes, and his mother is inconsolable most of the time, leaving his grandmother to care for him.
Southern outbreaks
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City's Health authorities have reported the return of chickenpox and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) with more infections year-on-year.
Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the city health department, told Tuoi Tre the nation has entered peak time for HFMD outbreaks. In the meantime, the city has run out of the chickenpox vaccine amid a new outbreak.
Figures from the Health Ministry showed that the city's HFMD infections has increased 28.9 percent year-on-year to nearly 2,700.
Nearby Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province has reported more than 1,100 HFMD cases this year, up 34.4 percent over the same period last year.
To Duc Sinh, director of the Preventive Health Center of Binh Phuoc Province said that infections have increased to more than 30 a week, or 174 cases this year--most were reported in late March.
Khanh Hoa Province on the central coast also reported an uptick in HFMD infections. The province’s Preventive Health Center said 284 HFMD cases have been noted this year, most were children.

HFMD killed at least 41 out of more than 110,000 cases in 2012 and 169 the year before out of roughly the same number of infections. 

All of the reported fatalities were children.

No vaccination is currently available for the disease, which causes blisters on the victims hands and feet and sores in their mouth. Treatment requires the use of respirators and blood dialysis.
Infections occur most commonly in children under five; many of the fatalities were caused by EV71, the most virulent strain of the Entovirus and also the most common in Vietnam.
Measles can prove fatal within 24 hours of falling sick.

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