Meningitis suspected as baby dies in central Vietnam

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The Health Ministry on Tuesday said the death of a 11-month-old baby in central Vietnam is suspected to have been caused by meningitis, a contagious disease that causes brain inflammation.

Tran Thi Kieu V. of the north-central province of Quang Tri died on January 20, the same day she was admitted to the Hue Central Hospital after falling sick the previous day with fever and hives, said doctors from the ministry's Preventive Health Unit.

The 11-month-old baby was diagnosed with infection shock, possibly caused by Neisseria meningitides the bacterium that causes meningitis.

Doctors said the condition has a high death rate of around 15 percent, and easily spreads through the respiratory system. Around 15-20 percent of people in the outbreak area could carry the bacterium without showing any symptoms, they added.

Nguyen Van Binh, head of the preventive health unit, said the condition can be cured by antibiotics but many cases develop very fast.

Earlier this month, the ministry ordered Ho Chi Minh City to take urgent steps to curb the spread of the disease after 30 people in the city tested positive for the bacterium, with the first cases reported in December.

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