Thursday, April 11, 2013

VN issues guidance on combating H7N9 flu

As one of the efforts to cope with the new bird flu virus strain H7N9 that has killed nine people in China, the Vietnamese Health Ministry has issued instructions on combating H7N9 flu virus in Vietnam.

The instructions, which were released yesterday, provide knowledge on methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the H7N9 virus, for which there is no vaccine.

According to the document, H7N9 flu mainly gives rise to progressive pneumonia that has high fatality rates. Therefore, flu patients with such a condition should be separated from others to avoid transmission.

For the purpose of preventing the spread of the deadly virus, H7N9 patients at hospitals, if possible, should wear masks both while in their wards and outside.

As there is no known vaccine against the new flu virus strain, the main precaution to take is maintaining personal hygiene, washing hands thoroughly with soap, and using nose and throat antiseptic solutions, according to the government's recommendations.

As reported by Chinese state media, a total of 28 people in China have been infected by the new bird flu virus, and two more patients infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu died on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to nine.

As a move to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, China authorities have banned live poultry trading in Shanghai and Nanjing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that the H7N9 virus is being transmitted from human to human.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology said on Wednesday that the H7 and N9 gene segments in H7N9 are similar to those in avian influenza samples collected from wild birds from east Asia, while the other six genes are found from chickens in China's Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The recent outbreaks of the H7N9 strain in China have proved that avian flu strains are constantly mutating and becoming more deadly, said Nguyen Van Kinh, director of the Vietnam’s Central Tropical Diseases Hospital.
Compared to H5N1, the H7N9 causes pneumonia to develop more rapidly and induces a higher fatality among patients, up to 70-80 percent, Kinh warned.
On Wednesday Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien called on all hospitals and other concerned agencies to take necessary precautions against the new bird flu.

The Medical Examination and Treatment and Department requests  that all hospitals send samples of patients with serious pneumonia which is caused by unknown reasons or suspected to be caused by the deadly virus, to the HCMC Pasteur Institute for testing.
Yesterday the HCMC Health Department ordered the International Medical Quarantine Center and all hospitals, including private ones, to prepare plans to cope with the H7N9 bird flu in humans.

As reported, HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat Airport has used tele-thermometers to measure the body temperatures of all visitors to HCMC for detection of abnormality since last Saturday, April 6.
A similar precaution has also been carried out at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, where two temperature scanners are currently in operation.

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