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Saigon Sees a Sharp Rise in Dengue Fever

This has been a tough year for dengue in Vietnam. While health officials have been cautioning for months now that the illness, passed by mosquitoes, is on the rise, dengue has reached peak levels in the past few weeks.

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According to Vietnam News, over 10,600 cases have been reported in Saigon in 2015, an 80% increase from the same period last year. 

At present, the city's Preventive Medicine Center counts an average of 400 cases a week in Saigon, with the most dengue-affected areas in Binh Tan, Thu Duc, Binh Chanh, Tan Binh and Tan Phu Districts as well as District 8. 

This isn't entirely surprising, reports Outbreak News Today, as Malaysia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines are also seeing spikes in dengue fever. El Nino years are especially bad because of the prolonged high temperatures and rains.

Additionally, factors like a growing population, urbanization and increased pollution also contribute to higher numbers of mosquitoes, increasing the likelihood of contracting dengue. Though there are campaigns to exterminate some of these creatures, Saigon Giai Phong reports, hospitals are still packed beyond capacity.

Ministry of Health figures count 45,000 infected by dengue nationwide so far this year, as well as 28 deaths. In several hospitals across the country, two or more patients share the same bed. Outbreak News Today reports that the HCMC Pediatric Hospital alone admitted 2,099 inpatient dengue cases this week but only has 1,400 beds.

Yesterday afternoon, Thanh Nien reported a promising new development, however, as French pharmaceutical company Sanofi aims to distribute a new dengue vaccination in Vietnam soon.

The drug, whose late-stage trials have proven most effective in children nine and up, could prevent infection by up to 66%, according to the head of Saigon's Pasteur Institute, Phan Trong Lan.

The Pasteur Institute, in conjunction with Sanofi, has been testing the vaccination in Vietnam over the past five years with no major side effects reported. Health officials currently expect the outbreak to last until the end of November, however preventive vaccinations could help to shorten that time frame.

[Top photo via Robert Andersson]

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