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Borneo, Health, Kuching, Malaysia, Sarawak, Sarawak Environment, Sarawakian

Sarawak records highest rate of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

I READ yesterday that Vietnam is on high alert as hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) continues to spread in the country.

News reports say that HFMD has killed 81 children and caused over 32,000 people to fall ill this year in Vietnam.

Nearly 80 per cent of the cases have been reported in the country’s south.

It is apparently spreading fast among children under five.

What has this got to do with Sarawak you may ask. Well, Bernama online reported today that our State recorded 914 cases of HFMD this year – the highest figure for the country.

Selangor, which had the second highest number of cases, only recorded 513 cases. That’s 401 cases less.

Thankfully there have been no deaths in Malaysia this year due to HFMD.

However, if you recall in 1997, 31 infants and young children in Sarawak died from an outbreak of HFMD.

The majority of deaths – 11 – were reported in Sibu, while Sarikei had 7 death cases.

Although the number of cases this year is still very low compared to the 10,505 cases in 2008. But the state has been known to experience outbreaks every two to three years.

I think it is vital for parents and childcare workers in particular to be extra vigilant with our children.

The State Health Department has put out some guidelines to lower the risk of infection. The main thing is to practise good hygiene.

The preventive measures include:
* Frequent hand washing, especially after diaper changes, after using toilet and before preparing food. 
* Maintain cleanliness of house, childcare centre, kindergartens or schools and its surroundings. 
* Cleaning of contaminated surfaces and soiled items with soap and water, and then disinfecting them with diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach (10% concentration). 

* Bring children to the nearest clinic if they show signs and symptoms. Refrain from sending them to childcare centres, kindergartens or schools. 
* Avoid close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children having HFMD illness to reduce of the risk of infection.

I repeat that the main thing is to be careful by practising good hygiene. Sarawakians, let’s do our best to prevent another outbreak.

For more details go to:
Sarawak Health Department

Bernama online’s report:

HFMD cases total 2,919 for 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — The 2,919 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) reported this year did not see any fatalities. 

This is a 66.7 per cent drop from the 8,769 cases in 2010, Health director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said in a statement today, Bernama Online reported.

For 2011 Sarawak had the most cases with 914 followed by Selangor at 513. The top 5 is completed by Johor and Perlis with identical 300 and Penang with 263.

Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV 71) were the most common strains causing HFMD according to the National Public Health Laboratory the statement read.  Virus is spread by direct mucus, saliva, or faeces contact with incubation period being up to five days.

HFMD primarily afflicts infants and children under the age of 10 causing fever, mouth ulcers (tongue and gums) and blisters or rashes on hands and feet.

Parents and caregivers are advised to get medical attention for their children if symptoms are noticed and in the meantime to observe better hygiene in their living space to prevent the disease.

The AP report:

Vietnam on high alert as HFMD spreads

HANOI – Vietnam’s Prime Minister has put the country on alert as an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease continues to surge, killing 81 children and causing more than 32,000 people to fall ill so far this year, officials said yesterday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for stepped-up efforts to prevent and control the transmission of the common childhood disease.

It has spread nationwide but is raging hardest in the country’s south, where nearly 80 per cent of the cases have been reported.

“Hand, foot and mouth disease, a dangerous infectious disease for children under five, is spreading fast, creating huge danger to the health and life of young children,” Mr Dung said in a statement that appeared on the government’s website.

A more severe strain of the disease, called enterovirus 71 – which can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death – has been identified in approximately one-third of the sampled cases, said Dr Graham Harrison, the World Health Organization’s acting representative for Vietnam.

Though there has been a slight decrease recently, about 2,000 new cases are still being logged every week.

“Whether it’s going to go down and come back up or has just sort of peaked for the year and will then go down, we’ll have to wait and see,” said Dr Harrison. AP


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