The General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health on February 10 called on all people, especially children, to apply preventive measures to avoid measles, with epidemic likely to spread in the humid and cold spring weather.

The department advised that parents should make sure their children receive full vaccinations following doctors’ advice.

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City cited that over 620 cases were reported showing signs of measles from the beginning of 2014 to February 5.

Of the number, 138 cases were recorded in Ho Chi Minh City , 120 and 80 in northern Lao Cai and Son La provinces and 30 in Hanoi. Most worryingly, northern Yen Bai province recorded 253 cases and one death.

Most of the patients had not been fully vaccinated against measles.

In 2013, the country saw 1,048 measles cases, mostly in children under the age of 10 (75.9 percent) and five (60 percent).

The general department on February 8 ordered all provinces to intensify measles prevention measures and detect, quarantine and treat infected patients.

They were also asked to publicise the vaccination available for children.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.

Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune system have been weaken by HIV/AIDS or other diseases, it said.

Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children. In 2012, there were 122,000 measles deaths globally, with most victims under the age of five. The disease, which is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family, causes about 330 deaths every day and 14 deaths every hour, according to the WHO.

Measles vaccinations resulted in a 78 percent drop in deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide, the organisation pointed out.

Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high risk countries were immunised against the disease through mass vaccination programmes.-VNA