BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Health (DOH-CAR) disclosed that hand, foot and mouth disease cases in the region dramatically increased by approximately 775 percent for the first two months of this year after recording some 35 cases compared to the only 4 cases during the previous year.
Based on the data obtained from the DOH-CAR’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), there were no reported hand foot and mouth disease-related deaths by the different disease reporting units during the two reckoning periods.
The hand foot and mouth disease cases were from Benguet – 21, Baguio City – 8 or a 300 percent increase, Mountain Province 3, Kalinga 1, and non-CAR Provinces – 2 or a 100 percent increase.
The DOH-CAR-RESU added that there were 20 males or 71 percent of the total victims who were affected by the illness and that the age range of those who were affected was from 2 months to 9 years old with a median of 3.
Health experts stated that hand, foot and mouth disease is a common infectious disease caused by a group of enterovirus, including coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) and enterovirus 71 (EV71).
According to them, hand, foot and mouth disease is characterized by a brief febrile illness in children and typical skin rash, with or without mouth ulcers.
The health officials pointed out that typically, the rash is papulovesicular and affects the pals or soles of the feet, or both.
Moreover, infection of EV 71 is of particular concern of the health officers as it can cause severe disease in children, sometimes resulting in death and hand, foot and mouth disease is spread from person to person by direct contact and viruses are found in the nose and throat secretions such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus, fluid and blisters and stool of infected persons.
The viruses may be spread when infected persons touch objects and surfaces that are then touched by others and enteroviruses could be excreted in the stools for up to 6 weeks and throat secretions for up to 2 weeks.
Among the recommended hand, foot and mouth disease preventive and control measures include the conduct of information and education campaigns n good hygiene and basic sanitation to reduce spread of the disease and the timely reporting of individuals that are infected with the said illness for them to be provided with the appropriate diagnoses considering that such illness is curable.
Health officials explained that children and adults have the tendency to acquire the illness when getting in contact with infected individuals in crowded places, thus, one of the suggested preventives and control measures against hand, foot and mouth disease is to ensure that people have a strong immune system, especially when frequenting crowded places.
There’s no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who are infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease may help reduce your child’s risk of infection.
By Dexter A. See