Vietnam reports first death from recent cholera outbreak

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has recorded its first cholera death during an outbreak that has spread to 11 out of 63 provinces and cities across the communist nation, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old victim from northern Ninh Binh province died on May 12 a few hours after hospitalisation, said a Ministry of Health website report.

The victim was an alcoholic who tested positive for vibrio cholera bacteria. He had diarrhoea and serious dehydration, the ministry said.

It added that a total of 53 patients have been confirmed with cholera since April 20, while more than 500 others had acute diarrhoea.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Vietnam has a long standing problem with food safety and hygiene.

Authorities in Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses — where the popular meat is prepared — over fears their unhygienic conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says cholera can be easily avoided through good hygiene, especially by washing hands with soap after using the toilet.

The WHO on Tuesday referred to a 2006 survey of rural sanitation that found only 12 percent of people washed their hands before eating, 15.5 percent washed after urinating, and 16.9 percent cleaned their hands after defecating. The survey was carried out by Vietnam’s Department of Preventative Medicine and Environment.

Bacteria from the faeces of a contaminated person are one of the main sources of cholera contamination, the WHO says.

As part of its joining the World Trade Organization two years ago, Vietnam’s food safety needs to adapt to international standards, WHO said.

“Coordination of activities to ensure safe practices into the entire food chain is a challenging task for Vietnam’s government,” it said.

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Vietnam dog slaughterhouses shut on health fears

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

May 18, 2009

HANOI (AFP) — Authorities in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses on fears their unclean conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Dog meat is a popular dish in Vietnam.

It was unclear when the slaughterhouses in Hanoi’s suburban Duong Noi would be allowed to resume operations, local official Nguyen Thi Thuc told AFP, without providing more details.

The health ministry said on its website that cholera bacteria had been found in the slaughterhouses.

Cholera is spread through unsafe food.

Eight northern cities and provinces are presently hit by outbreaks of acute diarrhoea, including hundreds of cases of suspected cholera, officials and press reports said.

Communist Vietnam has a longstanding problem with food safety and hygiene.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

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Ha Tinh: cholera and dengue fever spread

Dan Tri)

A dengue fever patient at a communal health station in Ha Tinh Province. (photo: Dan Tri)

VietNamNet Bridge – By Tuesday, the central province of Ha Tinh had an additional ten acute diarrhea patients hospitalized, raising the total number to 42, including 15 positive to cholera bacteria.

The epidemic may have originated from Quynh Phuong Commune, Quynh Luu District of Nghe An Province, according to Nguyen Luong Tam, vice director of the Ha Tinh Preventive Healthcare Centre. The first patient was hospitalized on November 2.

Meanwhile, the dengue fever epidemic is spreading in Nghi Xuan district with five more hospitalized patients, reaching a total of 64.

The main cause of the epidemic was the stagnant waters left over from the recent floods, director of the provincial Preventive Healthcare Centre, Nguyen Van Hien, said.

In another central province, Quang Binh, the first dengue patients were reported in Le Thuy District, after the recent flood.

In the central province of Nghe An, bird flu epidemic was announced in Dien Hong Commune, Dien Chau District, killing nearly 1,000 chickens and ducks.

(Source: NLD, DT)

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/social/2008/11/813178/

Vietnam battles cholera outbreak, over 130 infected

A woman selling vegetables at a marketHANOI (AFP) — Vietnam, battling a cholera outbreak that has infected over 130 people, this week launches a month-long public hygiene drive while cracking down on dirty food stalls and dredging sewage-choked lakes.

The epidemic of the dangerous bacterial disease — the country’s third major outbreak since October — has spread in recent weeks from its epicentre in Hanoi to southern Ho Chi Minh City and 16 provinces, officials said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, at a weekend crisis meeting, ordered state agencies in the communist country to quickly come to grips with the epidemic, which has also seen over 1,300 people hospitalised with acute diarrhoea.

The disease, spread through unsafe food, “not only affects our people’s health but also socio-economic development, tourism and social security,” he told ministers and provincial chiefs, according to the Tuoi Tre daily.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholerae. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

Vietnam has so far reported no fatalities from the three outbreaks.

Of 1,335 acute diarrhea cases reported since early March, 136 patients — or about 10 percent — have tested positive for cholera, Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan said, according to the main government website.

The disease has thrown a spotlight on often poor hygiene conditions in Vietnam’s public spaces, including wet markets and streetside restaurants where ground-level cooking areas are often situated adjacent to toilets.

Many farmers use fresh manure to fertilise vegetables and polluted water to irrigate fields. At tens of thousands of streetside food stalls, dishes and chopsticks are commonly washed using soapy but cold water.

Public health officials say they suspect cholera has spread rapidly along Vietnam’s north-south railway line, where many train carriages have inadequate waste removal services and the toilets can be forbidding places.

“Fifteen trains a day take 3,000 passengers through 22 provinces,” Huan said according to the Thanh Nien daily. “Only 100 out of 1,000 carriages have sanitary waste collection. This is a huge threat in spreading the germ.”

In Hanoi, where at least 44 cholera cases have been reported, authorities have ordered the dredging of 31 lakes which, although picturesque, are often filled with sewage and are now seen as dangerous disease incubators.

City workers have already dumped over one tonne of chlorine into central Hanoi’s Linh Quang Lake and closed some restaurants and street stalls along its shore after six people living nearby tested positive for cholera.

Two thousand residents have been given cholera vaccines, reports said.

“It is a challenge with a sewerage system that has not kept pace as the population and urban density have increased,” said Sean Tobin, a medical epidemiologist at the World Health Organisation in Vietnam.Tobin said Vietnam was now taking the right steps to fight the outbreak, the source of which remained unclear, but added that there had been “a little bit of a fog of information” on the spread of the disease.

Vietnam’s state-controlled media — after months of focusing on the more benign sounding “acute diarrhoea” — has now started to routinely use the word “cholera,” a shift officials hope will help drive home the health threat.

In its month-long information campaign, the government will stress key public hygiene messages — such as the need to wash hands after using toilets or handling garbage and before touching food, keeping kitchens clean, cooking food well, boiling drinking water, and avoiding unsafe streetside restaurants.

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Cholera spreads in Vietnam

Hanoi – A cholera outbreak that began in mid-March has expanded to 16 provinces throughout Vietnam and infected at least 121 people, health officials said Thursday. “The situation is dangerous, and the possibility that the outbreak will further expand to other provinces is very high,” said Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Ministry of Heath’s Preventive Medicine Department.

Nga said the cause of the outbreak’s spread was contaminated water sources, leading to the contamination of food, especially vegetables.

“Many people don’t have hygienic toilets, and others defecate into rivers or in the fields, resulting in the spread of the bacteria,” Nga said. “It’s more difficult to contain the situation in the countryside, where farmers use human feces to fertilize vegetables.”

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health sent an urgent message to provinces nationwide, requiring them to take necessary measures to contain the cholera outbreak.

The message urges provinces to tighten food hygiene, ban unhygienic food shops, and closely monitor infected people.

“The best way to contain the outbreak is to urge people to eat cooked food and water and to use hygienic toilets,” said Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

Late last year, more than 300 people were infected with cholera in an outbreak that expanded to 11 provinces in northern Vietnam, prompting local authorities to ban a popular fermented shrimp paste, which was blamed for half of the cases.

No one reportedly died from the outbreak last year, although health officials warned that dehydration could kill some patients if not treated immediately.

Cholera chiefly spreads through drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacteria.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/197973,cholera-spreads-in-vietnam.html

Acute diarrhea epidemic ravages northern Vietnam

Acute diarrhea outbreaks have occurred in 10 northern localities, with Hanoi being the hardest-hit area, a local health agency reported.

Preventive Health Department Head Nguyen Huy Nga said on Wednesday that 85 patients had tested positive for cholera, with 44 cases reported in Hanoi alone.

Tran Thi Phuong Thuy, a doctor from the Hanoi-based National Institute for Tropical and Infectious Diseases, said 103 patients with acute diarrhea are currently being treated on site.

Three other Hanoi general hospitals – Xanh Pon, Bach Mai and Dong Da – also admitted a total of 110 cases of acute diarrhea.

Recent tests conducted by the institute revealed the presence of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which causes the cholera disease, in water from canals and lakes in Hanoi and other northern provinces.

Warmer temperatures associated with the changing of the season heighten the bacterium resistance and increase the potential for the disease to proliferate.

Nga said water sterilization measures have been implemented at infected canals and lakes.

Last December, the Ministry of Health announced a 40-day acute diarrhea epidemic in 13 northern localities had been controlled.

That outbreak totaled 1,991 reported cases, of which 295 tested positive for cholera.

Vietnam to vaccinate 400,000 children against cholera: reports

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HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam plans to vaccinate 400,000 children in the capital against cholera, and officials warned Wednesday that cases of acute diarrhoea could flare up again after an outbreak sickened thousands last year.

Nearly 2,000 acute diarrhoea cases were reported in Hanoi and 12 other provinces and cities in October and November, of which 295 cases tested positive for cholera, the state-controlled Vietnam News daily said.

The health ministry, which declared the epidemic under control in December, has approved funding to vaccinate 400,000 children aged over 10 in areas of Hanoi where the outbreaks struck hardest last year, state media reported.

No deaths were reported from the outbreak of cholera, an intestinal infection spread by bacteria in drinking water or food that causes watery diarrhoea and can be deadly in severe cases of dehydration and kidney failure.

Dozens more cases of severe acute diarrhoea have been reported in Hanoi this month, but none have tested positive for cholera, health officials said.

The health ministry warned that good personal and food hygiene are essential to containing the diseases ahead of the Tet lunar New Year in February.

“There is a high risk of a new outbreak of acute diarrhoea during Tet as food consumption will go up rapidly,” Nguyen Van Binh, deputy director of the Preventive Medical Department of the Ministry of Health, told AFP.

The World Health Organisation reported two human deaths in neighbouring Laos in early January after a cholera outbreak sickened about 180 people in the country.