At least 40 patients at two major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City have tested positive for A/H1N1 influenza, including two who died from the acute respiratory disease, as health officials warn of a possible outbreak of swine flu.
At the Tu Du Hospital, the city’s leading public institution in obstetrics, 28 people have been infected with swine flu so far this year, including a 26-year-old woman who died on May 30.
The death of a male patient last Monday at the Cho Ray Hospital in District 10 marked the second casualty of swine flu in the southern metropolis since the start of 2018.
Doctors at Cho Ray have diagnosed 12 patients with the disease between June 11-24, including five who are currently on life support, two of whom in critical condition as of Sunday.
Some patients have been down with swine flu for a full week but their conditions have not improved due to pre-existing conditions such as kidney failure, diabetes and lupus, doctors say.
Swine flu, known to be caused by the H1N1strain of the influenza A virus, is a respiratory disease with symptoms including chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and general discomfort.
According to Cho Ray Hospital, such a large number of patients testing positive for the influenza virus at the same time is unprecedented on the hospital’s records.
As prospects of a possible swine flu outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City loom, local hospitals have received instructions from the Ministry of Health to timely diagnose, treat and isolate patients contracted with the A/H1N1 virus.
Health workers who are constantly exposed to flu patients are asked to get flu shots to contain the disease’s spread.
Hospitals in the city have activated protocols which isolate patients who have symptoms of the transmissible disease even before tests are done to determine if they are infected.
In 2009 the A/H1N1 pandemic swept through Vietnam, with more than 9,000 cases of people contracting the disease and nearly 20 deaths, according to the health ministry.
The A/H1N1 virus can be transmitted by droplets emanating from unprotected coughs and sneezes, hand contamination, and interpersonal encounters in crowded closed spaces, according to the World Health Organization.
The WHO also says in a tropical country like Vietnam, the influenza circulates the entire year round, usually reaching several peaks in the rainy season.