Ministry urges to take measures against diphtheria

In yesterday’s dispatch, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Preventive Medicine urged health authorities in two localities to take measures against diphtheria.

A health worker takes samples of close contacts of infected cases for testing

The Department sent its official letters to the health departments of the provinces of Nghe An and Bac Giang, as well as the National Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene asking to adopt prevention and control measures for diphtheria. This action was taken after recording one death and one case of infection due to close contact.

To prevent the spread of diphtheria, the Ministry of Health recommends that the local health departments in these two regions intensify the following measures including conducting thorough screening of close contacts with confirmed diphtheria cases, promptly detecting suspected cases within outbreak clusters and the community and conducting timely testing to confirm diphtheria cases.

As per the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, localities and the health sector must implement comprehensive outbreak control measures, organize investigations, and provide prophylactic antibiotic treatment for all close contacts.

Additionally, local authorities should ensure proper patient management, emergency care, and infection control at healthcare facilities, minimizing unnecessary patient transfers to big hospitals and deaths. They should also review and update vaccination records for diphtheria in all villages and neighborhoods, especially in areas where diphtheria is prevalent and vaccination rates are low.

The Ministry of Health also requested the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology to closely monitor the diphtheria epidemic situation and direct, guide, and support localities in implementing epidemic prevention measures.

Earlier, on the morning of July 8, the Nghe An Provincial Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported recording a case of an 18-year-old patient who died from diphtheria in Pha Khao hamlet of Pha Danh Commune in Ky Son District.

The poor girl started showing symptoms on June 24 with fever, cough, and sore throat, and self-medicated at home but her illness did not improve. The patient was then taken to the Ky Son District Medical Center and then transferred to the Nghe An General Hospital for treatment. Due to malignant diphtheria, complicated by myocarditis and multiple organ failure, she died on the morning of July 5.

Through epidemiological investigation, the competent authorities of Nghe An Province determined that 119 people had contact with the patient from the time of onset of the disease to death.

Meanwhile, the CDC of Bac Giang Province has identified the first case of diphtheria in the locality who is an 18-year-old girl in Trung Tam hamlet, Hop Thinh commune of Bac Giang Province’s Hiep Hoa District with permanent residence in Ky Son District of Nghe An Province.

The 18-year-old girl is one of the cases in close contact with the above-mentioned death due to diphtheria in Ky Son District. Currently, she has been taken to the Central Tropical Diseases Hospital for treatment by the Hiep Hoa District Medical Center in coordination with the Bac Giang Provincial General Hospital, because there is no diphtheria antitoxin serum left in Bac Giang Province.

By the afternoon of July 8, the competent authorities of Bac Giang Province had traced 15 people in the area who had been in close contact with the 18-year-old girl who is working at karaoke bars in Hiep Hoa District of Bac Giang Province.

The Hiep Hoa District Medical Center has been urgently spraying disinfectants to disinfect guesthouses and karaoke bars at risk in the area.

To proactively prevent diphtheria from spreading into an epidemic and minimize the number of cases and deaths, on July 8, the Chairman of the Bac Giang Provincial People's Committee issued an urgent directive on the prevention and control of diphtheria.

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