A patient is treated at the Y16 Military-Civil Hospital (Source: VNA)

Binh Phuoc (VNA) – A diphtheria outbreak has officially been announced at the district level in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

The declaration was issued by the provincial People’s Committee in Decision No. 1954/QD-UBND, signed by Vice Chairman Huynh Thi Hang on July 15.

The Committee instructed the provincial health sector to closely monitor the situation, take sample tests from high-risk groups and advise people to take preventive pills and spray disinfectants to prevent the disease from spreading.

Mass diphtheria vaccinations should be conducted for all people aged between 1-25.

Health facilities at all levels have been asked to actively get prepared and ensure that all people contracting the disease are isolated and receive treatment to reduce the rate of mortality and new infections.

The provincial Party Committee instructed relevant bodies to promptly take steps to monitor, prevent and control the outbreaks in Thuan Loi and Thuan Phu communes of Dong Phu district.

Communication work should be increased to update people on the situation of the outbreaks, to raise their understanding of the disease.

Some 48 cases of tonsillitis and pharyngitis have been reported since June 24 in the two communes. Three patients died of diphtheria, causing great concern among local residents.

Diphtheria is a dangerous respiratory disease caused by a potent toxin produced by certain strains of the diphtheria bacterium. It is extremely contagious and can be spread through coughing or sneezing. Crowding, poor hygiene and lack of immunisation increase the risk of contracting the disease.

In Vietnam, since the implementation of the National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (NEPI), the rate of diphtheria infections has decreased dramatically.

Diphtheria vaccines used in NEPI include DPT (Diphtheria - Pertussis - Tetanus) before 2010, and Quinvaxem (Diphtheria - Pertussis - Tetanus - Hepatitis B - Hib influenza) after 2010.-VNA