More than 20,000 people fell victim to hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and hemorrhagic fever last month, with Vietnam still to reach the expected peak season for the diseases. The Health Ministry announced yesterday there were six fatalities out of the more than 11,000 cases of HFMD recorded in August. Ho Chi Minh City recorded 2,258 new patients last month, nearly doubling the number of patients from July, which was above health authorities' predictions, said Nguyen Dac Tho, deputy director of the Preventive Health Center based in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Tan Binh, director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Health Department, noted that HFMD patients from other provinces have been taken to hospitals in the city, causing the rapid spread of the disease among local residents. Quynh Mai from Tay Ninh province said her two children suffering HFMD are receiving medical treatment in Pediatrics Hospital 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. They have fever and vesicles on their limbs and mouths. With the influx of patients, Mai and her children have had to stay in the hospital corridor. “As many as seven or eight child patients share a bed and pay 200,000 dong (US$10) a day each, but there has been no room for us,” the 36-year-old said. Tran Trung Cang from Ben Tre city said his 17-month-old daughter was hospitalized one week ago and she too has has had to stay in a corridor. HFMD can be transmitted though the digestive tract, and there are no vaccines or specific medicines to combat the disease. Children under five years old are most vulnerable to it. The main preventive measure is maintaining hygienic conditions for eating, drinking and living. In addition to HFMD, health officials recorded 9,200 cases of hemorrhagic fever last month. There have been 38,000 cases including 29 deaths since January. This represents a 20 percent increase over the same period last year. September is expected to see a peak in HFMD figures, while hemorrhagic fever is expected to peak from this month to November.
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