Rabies cases have been detected and are on the rise in Vietnamese provinces which were not previously rabies hotspots, posing a high risk of outbreaks, according to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry sent an official dispatch on the enhancement of rabies prevention and control to localities nationwide.
The ministry clarified that rabies is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases.
An average of 60,000 people in the world die of rabies per year.
In Vietnam, it killed 76 people per year in the 2017-21 period, down 15 percent over the 2012-16 period.
It is worth noting that the number of rabies deaths is surging in provinces which were not rabies hotspots before.
For instance, southern Ben Tre Province has reported 12 deaths from rabies so far this year, double that in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Kien Giang Province has documented five fatalities caused by the disease, well above the one case year-on-year average.
In addition, the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has recorded four deaths, while it had no death from rabies in the same period in 2021.
The World Health Organization in Vietnam said that in the January-August period of this year, 40 people in the country were killed by rabies.
The number of deaths caused by the disease in 20 provinces in the 2017-21 period increased compared with the 2011-16 period.
According to the Ministry of Health, the death is directly caused by many people who are bitten by rabid animals refusing to get vaccinated.
The indirect reasons are the low rabies vaccination rate on pets and the poor management of dogs and cats in some localities.
Around 40 percent of dogs and cats nationwide are vaccinated against rabies, according to a report by veterinary agencies, but the rate should be at least 70 percent for two consecutive years to prevent the transmission of rabies from animals to people.
The risk of rabies outbreaks in these provinces and the transmission of the disease to other areas is high, the Ministry of Health stated in its statement.
Therefore, the ministry asked the People's Committees of cities and provinces to require their Departments of Health to keep a close watch on people who are bitten by dogs and cats suspected of being infected with rabies.
Moreover, they were assigned to call on residents to come to medical centers for a check-up, consultancy, and vaccination against rabies.
The Department of Health of every province and city must also help residents access rabies vaccines and anti-rabies serums, and open more rabies vaccination sites, ensuring that a district or town has at least one rabies vaccination center.
As for high-risk provinces, vaccination sites should be set up in communes as well.
In addition, Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development were told to supervise and handle rabies-infected animal outbreaks, and promptly share the information so that Departments of Health can take the initiative in preventing the transmission of the rabies virus to people.
Owners of dogs and cats should be equipped with measures to ensure safety for others in public places to prevent their pets from biting other people.
They should be also educated on the benefits of vaccinating their pets against rabies.
The Ministry of Health also requested cities and provinces to exempt or reduce the vaccination costs for poor, near-poor, ethnic minority people, those contributing to the country's revolution, and those participating in the fight against rabies in high-risk areas.
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