Published Date: 2010-09-20 17:00:07
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies, human, canine - Viet Nam
Archive Number: 20100920.3394
RABIES, HUMAN, CANINE - VIET NAM
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Mon 20 Sep 2010
Source: Viet Nam News [edited]
The annual number of deaths caused by rabies in Viet Nam is on the
rise again, causing renewed concern among health workers. The
National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) reports that
rabies led to the deaths of 34 people during the 1st 6 months of this
year , a toll equal to rabies deaths for all of 2003. The
institute's statistics show there were 84 rabies deaths in 2004, 131
in 2007, 91 in 2008 and 64 in 2009.
The Institute's director, Nguyen Tran Hien, who is also in charge of
the National Programme on Rabies Prevention, says rising deaths
related to rabies are a result of slack management by health
authorities and a lack of public awareness about the threat of
rabies. "Rabies was curbed between 2001 and 2003, but health
authorities later shifted their focus to battling SARS [Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome], bird flu [avian influenza A/H5N1 virus
infection] and cholera, so rabies prevention received less
attention," said Hien. "People's negligent behaviour in regards to
the disease is also a factor." Hien said other Asian countries were
also grappling with a rabies resurgence. In Viet Nam, annual funding
for rabies prevention is about USD 25 000, not enough to keep rabies
under control, according to Hien.
Rabies outbreaks occurred in 20 provinces and cities last year
, mainly in the northern mountainous provinces such as Lai
Chau, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang and Yen Bai. Director of the Tuyen Quang
Preventive Medicine Department Nguyen Dinh Phung said that the
province had 4 districts vulnerable to rabies outbreaks, including
Yen Son, Ham Yen, Chiem Hoa and Tuyen Quang Town. "The low rate of
dog vaccinations against rabies are to blame for the high risk," said Phung.
According to the department, only 4 per cent of dogs and cats in the
province have been vaccinated against rabies this year , even
though the recommended vaccination rate should be at least 85 per
cent. About 2000 people have been bitten by dogs and cats in the
province so far this year.
In Lai Chau province, rabies led to the deaths of 4 people between
June and August this year . Only half of 35 000 dogs in the
province were vaccinated against rabies this year.
Dinh Kim Xuyen, an expert in rabies prevention, said fighting rabies
was a straightforward task. "We just have to minimise the
transmission of the disease by getting dogs and cats vaccinated," she
said. Xuyen said rabies fatalities this year  would be higher
than for 2009.
Former Director of the Animal Health Department under the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Quang Anh said the local habit
of letting dogs wander the streets was also a factor leading to
rising rabies deaths. "The awareness among people about rabies
prevention is low, especially in rural and mountainous areas," said Anh.
Authorities have warned that people bitten by animals that are
suspected to have rabies should wash the wound with soap and salt
water and quickly go to a preventive medicine clinic for examination
World Health Organisation statistics show there are more than 55 000
people killed by rabies each year, and 50 per cent of them are under
15 years of age.
HealthMap alerts via
[According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) [see:
rabies is widely distributed across the globe. More than 55 000
people die of rabies each year. About 95 percent of human deaths
occur in Asia and Africa. Most human deaths follow a bite from an
infected dog. Between 30-60 percent of the victims of dog bites are
children under the age of 15.
Wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after
suspect contact with an animal, and following WHO recommendations,
can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100 percent of
exposures. Once the signs and symptoms of rabies start to appear,
there is no treatment, and the disease is almost always fatal.
Globally, the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in
people is by eliminating rabies in dogs through animal vaccinations.
A "Blueprint for Rabies Prevention and Control" has been developed by
global rabies experts to serve as a guide for countries that would
like to prevent human rabies by eliminating canine rabies within
their borders. This document, which is available at
<http://www.rabiesblueprint.com/>, lays out all the options available
for the control and elimination of rabies in urban and rural dog populations.
It is clear that the medical and veterinary authorities in Viet Nam
have not given rabies control measures sufficient priority in recent
years. This, in combination with a lack of awareness of the rabies
threat, particularly in the rural population, has led to an increase
in cases of human rabies contracted from rabid dogs. The increasing
number of rabies cases in northern Viet Nam and the example of the
threatening situations in Indonesia (Bali) and the Philippines have
awakened the authorities to the urgency of the problem, and it is to
be hoped that the control of canine rabies will be followed through
according to the "Blueprint for Rabies Prevention and Control."
A map showing the locations of the provinces of Viet Nam can be
accessed at: <http://www.angelfire.com/co/hongnam/vnmap.html>. The
HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Viet Nam is available at
<http://healthmap.org/r/008c>. - Mod.CP]