Six-year record heat increases encephalitis cases

by Dtinews28 May 2015 Last updated at 14:14 PM

A encephalitis patient at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi (photo: Dantri)
A encephalitis patient at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi (photo: Dantri) - Health authorities warn of a sharp rise in encephalitis across the country due to the unseasonably hot summer, with temperatures at hit six-year highs in northern regions.

The Health Ministry reports 136 cases of viral encephalitis to date, with five deaths, and 24 cases of meningococcus, with two fatalities.

Do Thien Ha, deputy head of infectious diseases at the National Paediatrics Hospital, said critical cases had been rising since the start summer.

The HCM City-based Paediatrics Hospital No.1 has been treating a lot of children with encephalitis. Truong Huu Khanh from the hospital said Japanese encephalitis is the most dangerous form, with fast-moving complications.

“Many children who represent with a fever have to go on respirators because they can't breath, and face months of hospital care," Khan said.

He urged parents not to dismiss fevers in their children but seek medical help, particularly if the fever is accompanied by vomiting or convulsions. They should also have their children vaccinated.

Doctors warned of infection risk at public swimming pools, particularly for viral encephalitis, which can spread in water that is heavily used and not properly monitored in hot conditions. Water treatment can be erratic or inadequate, with some pools being treated with toxic chemicals.

The Health Ministry requested localities to tighten control over encephalitis to prevent its spread.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said northern Vietnam is experiencing hot weather not seen for six years. High-30s to low-40s have persisted for more than a week, but temperatures should start to drop by May 30.

An El Nino has been declared by international meteorological authorities for the Western Pacific region and will likely cause higher summer temperatures for the next two-to-seven years.

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