Emergencies preparedness, response

Severe Acute Watery Diarrhoea with V. cholerae positive cases in Viet Nam

Between 5 March and 22 April the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam reported 2490 cases of severe acute watery diarrhoea including 377 that were positive for Vibrio cholerae , the bacterium causing cholera. The serotype has been identified as 01 Ogawa. No deaths have been reported, a fact that indicates that good case management is in place.

Until now, 20 provinces and municipalities of Viet Nam have been affected. The majority of people infected by the disease are Hanoi residents. The predominant route of infection appears to be consumption of contaminated food. Cholera bacteria have not been detected in drinking water in Hanoi or in other affected areas but have been found in some surface waters. Additional epidemiological, environmental and food trace-back investigations are under way.

The Ministry of Health has been increasing health education and launched a mass media campaign aimed at strengthening food safety and personal hygiene knowledge and practices. Environmental disinfection is conducted in the homes of cholera patients and a program of intensified hygiene inspection of commercial food vendors is being carried out.

WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health by providing technical advice on aspects of the epidemiological and laboratory investigations of the outbreak. In addition, WHO and other UN agencies are exploring other possibilities of assistance.

In controlling the spread of cholera WHO does not recommend any special restrictions to travel or trade to or from affected areas. Visitors coming to Viet Nam are encouraged to respect basic precautions when consuming water and food.