A nurse in Vietnam’s  northern province of Hưng Yên may be charged for a starting a genital warts outbreak that has affected scores of children.

The outbreak that began last summer, is believed started by treatment provided by Hoang Thi Hien, 49 at her unlicensed home clinic in Khoai Chau District. When families questioned the outbreak, it prompted health inspectors and police officers to launch a probe to identify the cause.

Image/Alexas_Fotos via pixabay
Image/Alexas_Fotos via pixabay

Hien was treating boys for a condition called phimosis at her home clinic. Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back past the glans.

Investigators found that Hien had used unsterilized devices in treating phimosis by widening the congenital foreskin. Her carelessness had caused the disease to spread.

In response to complaints lodged against her, Hien said she had not used any invasive methods, and only cleaned the boys’ penises and gave them anti-inflammatory medicine. “I used new gloves for each patient. They all recovered after a couple visits,” she said.

Some families said she had lied to them by saying she was a doctor, not a nurse.

Hien, who is not a qualified doctor, had opened a private clinic at home to provide genital examinations for children, charging VND300,000 ($13) to VND500,000 ($21) per treatment.

At least 103 children had been treated at the clinic for phimosis between late 2016 and mid-2017, and most of them were infected with HPV.

She was taken into custody last December pending further investigation into the outbreak.

Police are pressing charges of violations in health-check and treatment regulations, which can be punished by up to 15 years in jail.

Genital warts are caused by the genital human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain types of HPV cause genital warts while other types of the virus are associated with cervical, vulvar, anal, and penile cancers.