Binh Phuoc Province health officials said seven people have contracted the vaccine preventable disease, diphtheria, in recent weeks, of which three patients under the age of 24 died, according to local media.


Bình Phuoc is is located in the Southeast region of the country, to the north of Hồ Chí Minh City. It shares a border with Cambodia. It is considered to be a poor and remote area.

In addition, a source from the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City said 26 others in the district are developing similar symptoms, including four who have tested positive for the disease.

Health officials say vaccinations are available free-of-charge in Vietnam and the coverage rate is around 90 percent.

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.