The Ministry of Health on December 4 sent urgent dispatches to the Ministry of Transport and provincial municipal People’s Committees asking them to actively prevent bubonic plague as the epidemic killed at least 40 people in Madagascar while also hitting many other countries including the US and China.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Transport was urged to guide units with transport means entering Vietnam from plague-hit countries to promptly inform competent agencies about the hygienic conditions and the appearance of rats and fleas on their vehicles for timely response measures.

The units must actively examine, detect and destroy rats and fleas on their transport means, especially water, railway and road vehicles, to minimise the risks of disease transmission from animals to humans.

The Health Ministry also requested the health departments of provinces and cities to instruct quarantine agencies increase the examination and supervision of goods on vehicles returning from epidemic-stricken areas.

Media agencies should strengthen the dissemination of anti-plague measures among people, especially those living in high-risk areas, and encourage them to kill rats under the guidance of the agricultural sector.

The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis which is transmitted to human via flea bites. It kills about one in ten infected patients. Patients first develop high fever, headache and painful swelling in lymph glands. In extreme cases, their skin turns dark purple. Once diagnosed, patients can be treated with antibiotics. If they are diagnosed early on, they have better chances to recover. 

Vietnam has recorded no bubonic plague cases in the past 12 years.-VNA