Health agencies in central Quang Nam province are taking drastic measures to mitigate the adverse effects of a recent diphtheria outbreak.

It is the first outbreak recorded in many decades in mountainous Phuoc Loc commune of Phuoc Son district and has claimed three lives so far this year.

The province has zoned off the area and carried out disinfection procedures. The Quang Nam Health Department is organising a vaccination programme for all locals living in the vulnerable locality.

The department’s Director Nguyen Van Hai declared Quang Nam’s determination to curb disease fatalities through maintaining regular inspections, launching intensive treatments for current patients and educating residents on diphtheria and basic hygienic practices.

Working groups from the Health Department will visit each local home to run a communication campaign. The national health sector has prepared medication and medical equipment to support disease-affected provinces as necessary.

According to the provincial department, ten others with classic diphtheria symptoms of high fever and swollen and painful throat are being treated at the district’s medical centre and their conditions are improving.

Phuoc Loc commune is home to 23,635 people, 70 percent of whom are Bh’noong ethnic minorities who still subsist on nomadic farming and have little access to health services.

Diphtheria is a dangerous respiratory disease caused by a potent toxin produced by certain strains of the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is extremely contagious through coughing or sneezing. Risk factors include crowding, poor hygiene, and lack of immunisations.

The disease can be treated and cured successfully with antitoxins and antibiotics if started early enough. Diphtheria can be prevented through vaccinations.-VNA