Babies being treated for hand, foot and mouth disease at the Children's Hospital No.1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo courtesy of Vietnam government website
A Vietnamese company has reported initial success with its vaccine for the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) virus that kills children every year and has already infected thousands in the first four months of 2014.
Do Tuan Dat, director of the ministry of health's Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 (VABIOTECH) announced that it started researching a vaccine in 2010 and has completed its animal trials.
Dat said the company is filing requests to begin testing it on humans.
HFMD is an Entovirus spread through the saliva. Many of the fatalities in Vietnam were caused by the most virulent strain, EV71, which is also the most common in Vietnam.
Most of the victims are children under five.
The virus typically peaks in April - May and September- November, causing blisters on the hands and feet while opening sores in the mouth. Treatment requires the use of respirators and blood dialysis.
The disease has been considered highly dangerous it can quickly yield fatal complications like respiratory decline, meningitis and heart muscle inflammation.
There is currently no vaccine for the virus which killed at least 41 out of more than 110,000 patients in 2012 and 169 the year before out of roughly the same number of infections.
VABIOTECH is also applying for a license to distribute its human vaccine for H5N1 (avian flu) under the trade name Fluvax.
The virus kills an enormous amount of livestock every year in Vietnam. At least two human H5N1 deaths were confirmed this year.
The strain has claimed 64 lives so far in Vietnam, one of the highest fatality rates for any country since it re-emerged in 2003, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
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