Friday, December 9, 2011

Vietnam: Health agency warns of new flu strain

We also reported this, here

December 8, 2011
The Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department has requested institutes for hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur institutes nationwide to take active measures to prevent a new swine flu strain from penetrating Vietnam.

The request was made after three more people in the US were found to have contracted S-OtrH3N2, a new flu strain that combines parts of a rare influenza virus – H3N2 – circulating in North American pigs, and the H1N1 virus from the 2009 worldwide flu outbreak.

Nine US children and a 58-year-old man have been sickened by the new swine flu strain since July, and seven of the patients have a history of living near or directly contacting pigs, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

New flu strains develop when flu viruses combine in new ways. They can pose health risks because people have not yet developed immunity to these previously unseen strands, the CDC said.

In order to prevent the new flu strain from spreading to Vietnam, the Preventive Health Department has asked all hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur institutes to strengthen health quarantines at all border gates and pay due attention to people who develop fever and other flu symptoms.

All health facilities must monitor patients with serious pneumonia, especially cases suspected to be caused by flu viruses, to detect and identify the flu virus strain and thereby take measures to cope with it effectively and efficiently.

The situation of flu patient treatment must be updated to facilitate the prevention and control of the disease, the Department said.

Currently, Vietnam only has vaccines against the common seasonal flu caused by type A flu strains, including H3N1, H3N2 and H1N1, but people should still be vaccinated, since if a vaccinated person still contracts the flu, their condition usually remains better than someone who has not been vaccinated.

The 2009 A/H1N1 flu epidemic first broke out in North America, specifically in Mexico, and then spread to Europe and Asia, including Vietnam.

Since May 2009, more than 10,000 people in Vietnam have been infected with A/H1N1, of whom over 50 have died, the Department said.

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