Health Hazards in Vietnam
Over the past year there has been an alarming amount of dengue fever cases among expats in Hoi An – so make sure you take precautions against tghis escalating health hazard.
What is Dengue?
Dengue is carried by mosquitoes. There are 4 different subtypes. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue usually breed in urban areas close to human habitation and are most active during daylight hours. However, people should be most vigilant during the hours approaching dusk as this is when most people get bitten.
So how do you know if you have it?
Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death.
Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by 2 of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.
Symptoms usually last for 2–7 days, after an incubation period of 4–10 days following the bite from an infected mosquito.
A small but significant number of patients will go on to develop more severe life-threatening forms of the disease.
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever.
Drink lots of water. Many expats recommend getting yourself on a hospital drip as soon as possible. If you have had dengue, do not think you are immune. You are not. The second time around can be far worse than the first time.
Whilst a vaccine has recently been developed, it is not yet available to the general public so be particularly vigilant around dawn and dusk to avoid mosquito bites and … Use DEET-BASED REPELLENTS as these are the most effective.
Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment. Warning signs occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms in conjunction with a decrease in temperature (below 38°C/100°F) and include: severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit. The next 24–48 hours of the critical stage can be lethal; proper medical care is needed to avoid complications and risk of death.
Areas to watch out for:
- ankles, behind the knees, arms and neck – all the areas we don’t normally cover!
Clothing tips to keep in mind:
– Wear long-sleeved shirts
– Wear socks;
– Wear long pants and consider tucking your pants into your socks;
– Wear light-colored clothing, since mosquitoes are more attracted to darker colors;
For further information on Dengue Fever, read Surviving Dengue in Cambodia. Written by a writer from the website Move to Cambodia, it is an excellent outline of just how different the symptoms of dengue can be.
The following vaccinations (courses or boosters) are advised for tourists or expats moving to Vietnam: Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid.
Other vaccines to consider: Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies.
• Japanese Encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes in wet unclean conditions (such as rice fields or piggeries in rural areas). ‘JE’ is a viral infection with high incidence among young children or the elderly. It causes extensive brain damage as well as death. Contracting ‘JE’ is rare and many expats don’t bother vaccinating against it. However, ‘rare’ does not mean ‘never’. You may need some others depending on what you are doing, where you are going and how long you are staying.
Always ask your doctor!
WATER & ICE
Avoid drinking tap water; buy bottled water instead. Ice is made using boiled water and is generally okay to have in drinks. We at Hoi An Now have never had a problem with ice
Wear a proper helmet not an eggshell, drive slowly, make sure you have a motorbike license so you can access your health insurance in the ‘likely’ event of an accident. If you are relatively new to Hoi An, see Road Rules.