The Vietnam Administration of Preventive Medicine on Sunday warned the northern mountainous provinces of Lai Chau, Dien Bien and Ha Giang of anthrax outbreaks in humans, the Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper reported.
The administration said anthrax cases have been reported in the provinces since June, with Lai Chau having the highest number at 12, including one death.
It blamed local people's unhygienic eating habits for the transmission of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which passes anthrax from animals to humans.
In Dien Bien Province, the first anthrax case was reported after an ethnic minority resident slaughtered two buffaloes that had died from diseases, and invited other villagers to eat. The unidentified resident also sold the meat of nine sick buffaloes.
Provincial authorities have sent health officers to affected areas to raise public awareness of anthrax and measures to prevent the disease.
Information on home remedies is also being provided to ethnic minority communities in the province.
Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals that ingest or inhale the spores while grazing.
Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact (e.g., inoculation of infected blood to broken skin) or by consumption of a diseased animal's flesh.
Anthrax can enter the human body through the intestines (ingestion), lungs (inhalation), or skin (cutaneous) and causes distinct clinical symptoms based on its site of entry.
Symptoms include cold, fever, boil-like skin lesions and severe diarrhea.