The health department in Binh Phuoc Province, located in southern Vietnam, announced on Wednesday that a diphtheria outbreak has claimed three lives, with 31 additional diphtheria-positive cases reported.
The reluctance of citizens to seek vaccination is a major factor behind the sudden diphtheria epidemic in the province, Doctor Nguyen Dong Thong, director of the provincial health department, said.
Two of the deceased, T.L., 12, Đ.T, 18, had been living in Thuan Phu Commune, while N.T.H, 24, was a resident of Thuan Loi Commune.
According to Dr. Thong, between June 24 and July 12, 34 patients, including the deceased, tested positive for diphtheria. The remaining 31 patients are receiving medical treatment in health centers in Binh Phuoc and Ho Chi Minh City, said Dr. Thong.
The director of the Binh Phuoc Department of Health said that his agency, the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute, and the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases are carrying out medical examinations in search of a solution to the current pandemic.
“Despite regular vaccination schedules, the immunization coverage among local citizens falls below 95-97 percent – the suggested percentage to prevent diphtheria outbreaks,” says Dr. Thong.
Local authorities and healthcare organizations have utilized Chloramine B 5% to purge bacteria in the infected zone and advised locals to get vaccinated and wear masks during contact with the infected.
Symptoms including fever, sore throat, and swollen neck are closely linked to diphtheria and should be checked by a doctor.
While the free diphtheria vaccine has been listed under an expanded program on immunization, young adults and those in older age groups who were not vaccinated when local immunization coverage was low remain at risk and account for the current spread of the disease, said Tran Dac Phu, chief of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health.