SARAWAK has been put on high alert for hand, foot and mouth disease (HMFD).
Minister of Health Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai made the announcement after the State recorded 806 cases in just seven weeks this year.
This is almost four times more compared to the 213 cases within the same period last year.
Last August 21, I posted that Sarawak recorded the highest number of HMFD cases in the country here.
With 914 cases as of August 2011, Sarawak was well ahead of Selangor’s 513 HFMD cases.
Although it was not serious at the time, internationally, there were also reports that in Vietnam, HFMD had killed over 80 children and caused over 32,000 people to fall ill in the country’s south.
I was hoping that Sarawakians would take steps to ensure that an HFMD outbreak did not occur here like it did in 1997.
That outbreak, very sadly, killed 31 infants and young children in the State.
So far this year, 295 cases were reported in Kuching, 112 in Bintulu, 85 in Betong, 70 in Samarahan and 65 in Miri.
Datuk Seri Liow said the ministry has a standard operating procedure from handling past cases.
“When we detect an infection going around, the schools, for example, will be immediately closed down,” he is quoted as saying.
Children with HFMD will exhibit symptoms such as breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
All parents in Sarawak should take precautionary steps to limit HFMD from spreading and ensure their children practise good hygiene.
Make sure that hygiene levels in kindergartens and nurseries, in particular, are given high attention.
The preventive measures recommended by the State Health Department include:
* Frequent hand washing, especially after diaper changes, after using the toilet and before preparing food.
* Maintain cleanliness of the home, childcare centres, kindergartens or schools and its surroundings.
* Clean contaminated surfaces and soiled items with soap and water, and then disinfect them with diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach (10 per cent 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.
Let’s all play our part to help prevent HFMD from spreading in our State.
The report from New Straits Times:
On high alert for HFMD
By ELVINA FERNANDEZ
KUALA LUMPUR: THE Health Ministry has raised the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) alert level to “high” in Sarawak after a surge in cases over the past week.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, said there were 806 cases in the state in just seven weeks this year compared with only 213 cases within the same period last year.
“This is an early announcement to urge the public to take hygiene and cleanliness seriously to avoid a HFMD outbreak,” he said after launching the Medan Maju Jaya health clinic at Taman Medan yesterday.
He said 295 cases were reported in Kuching, Bintulu (112), Betong (85), Samarahan (70) and Miri (65).
Liow claimed the situation was not an outbreak but could lead to one if not handled right.
“These are signs of an outbreak. But we have a standard operating procedure in handling past cases. When we detect an infection going around, the schools, for example, will be immediately closed down.”
HFMD-afflicted children exhibit symptoms such as breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Liow advised parents to take precautionary steps to limit its spread and ensure their children practised good hygiene.
“It it easily contracted by children as their immune system is lower than adults. Hygiene in kindergartens and nurseries should be given high attention.”
He said the samples taken from patients contained the Enterovirus 17 (E17) while one was found to have Coxsackie A16 (CA16), a virus that normally spread through contact with saliva and faecal matter.
Liow said he had directed the ministry’s directed-general to monitor and discuss methods of handling the disease so that it does not escalate into an outbreak.
On the students of Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Shah in Malacca who were quarantined at the school hostel after showing symptoms of influenza-like illness (ILI), he said the ministry was confident the situation could be handled.
Meanwhile, Liow said there was a prevalence of high mental health problems among Malaysians, especially children.
“A lot of young people are under stress and they do not know how to handle it.”
The National Health Morbidity Survey in 2006 revealed that 11.2 per cent of adults had mental stress while 20.3 per cent of children and adolescents also faced the problem.
In 2011, the number of cases increased to about 12 per cent for adults while children also recorded slight increase.
Suicidal tendencies among youth aged between 16 and 24 were also at a worrying level at 20 per cent.
In view of this, he said, the ministry would extend the Healthy Mind Screening Programme to all schools this year.
“We will work with the Education Ministry to educate students on how to handle stress and provide them counselling in schools.”