The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed its supply of emergency botulism antitoxins for Vietnam to treat some cases infected with the serious illness caused by clostridium botulinum, the Drug Administration of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.
The WHO said that it would provide Vietnam with six vials of Botulism Antitoxin Heptavalent (BAT) for the emergency.
The WHO and the ministry’s relevant agencies are stepping up efforts to complete all procedures to take the delivery of the antitoxins as soon as possible, said a representative of the administration.
The administration also asked Cho Ray Hospital, which is treating some cases of botulism poisoning, to closely work with importers and distributors to seek more sources of antitoxins.
Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City admitted three patients poisoned with botulism a few days ago, but the hospital ran out of antitoxins for treatment.
After being notified of the severe shortfall of botulism antitoxins by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health on Sunday, the administration quickly contacted the WHO asking for its help with antitoxin supplies.
Botulism is a serious illness caused by clostridium botulinum, a poisonous substance in the bacteria found in badly preserved food. Botulism is a rare disease in Vietnam and in the world, according to the administration.
As such, the supply of BAT, a botulism antitoxin, is also limited worldwide, the administration said, adding that the price of this antitoxin is sky-high.
In 2020, the Ministry of Health also asked the WHO for the supply of botulism antitoxins to treat some patients poisoned after eating vegan pâté. The WHO sent 10 vials of BAT to the country for treatment, saving the patients.
Since 2020, Vietnam has reported a few cases of botulism poisoning.
On May 20, three people in Ho Chi Minh City were hospitalized due to botulinum poisoning after two of them, who are siblings, ate cha lua (Vietnamese pork sausage) and the remaining man consumed fermented fish kept for too long.
The two siblings, aged 18 and 26, and the 45-year-old man developed the symptoms of digestive disorder, fatigue, headache, dizziness, and diarrhea and quickly became worse later with muscle weakness, dysphagia, and diplopia.
In mid-May, three siblings contracted botulism after eating cha lua in Ho Chi Minh City as well.
They were saved after taking botulinum antitoxins shipped from central Quang Nam Province.
The trio, aged between 10 and 14, and their aunt, residing in Thu Duc City, bought cha lua from a street vendor to eat with bread.