PETALING JAYA: More than 27,000 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) have been reported as of June 30, said the Health Ministry.
Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said as of end of June this year, the number of cases stood at 27,296, compared to 21,303 cases for the same period in 2017.
This, he said, is a 28% increase in the number of cases.
“The number of cases in 12 states has exceeded the warning levels (paras amaran), except in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak,” said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement on Wednesday (July 11).
He said currently, 341 preschools, daycare centres or kindergartens have reported HFMD clusters in their premises.
HFMD, said Dr Noor Hisham, is caused by enterovirus, with the majority of the cases due to the Coxsackie Virus A16 and EV71.
The virus spreads when it comes in contact with saliva, blisters and stools of patients.
“Most of the infections are mild with symptoms of fever and blisters on the hands, foot, mouth and tongue.
“Almost all patients with HFMD recover without treatment within seven to 10 days.
However, he added, the EV71 infection can cause more complications such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs) and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
“There is no medication or vaccines that can prevent the infection of HFMD,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
He said that HFMD is easily infectious, especially among children in premises such as day care centres or kindergartens.
As such, the Ministry urged the childcare centre and kindergarten operators to ensure cleanliness of their premises, especially equipment used by children.
“Screening should also be done at the entrance to ensure the children do not display signs of HFMD infection.
Dr Noor Hisham advised that those with the symptoms (fever and blisters on the hands, foot, mouth and tongue) are advised not to attend school.
“Cleanliness is also important so (childcare centre operators or teachers) are encouraged to wash their hands after handling one child before attending to the next child,” he said, adding that diapers should also be properly disposed.
People are also encouraged to report to the district’s health department if there are clusters at kindergartens or preschools to help contain the infection.
Parents and guardians, said Dr Noor Hisham, are also advised to watch out for symptoms of HFMD such as rashes in the palms, feet or mouth.
They are also advised to keep their children who have such symptoms at home to contain the spread of the disease, he added.
In Iskandar Puteri in Johor, Zazali Musa reports that the state had recorded a spike in HMFD with 1,812 cases from January until July 11, this year.
State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal this figure was higher compared with 1,505 cases for the whole of 2017.
“Parents are advised not to send their children below 12 years old to child care centres, kindergartens and schools if they have shown HMFD symptoms,” he said.
Dr Sahruddin said this to reporters during the Johor Agriculture Department Hari Raya open house at Bangunan Sultan Ismail, Kota Iskandar here.
He also reminded the operators of child care centres and kindergartens as well as schools not to accept children who have shown the HMFD symptoms to their establishments.
“They should immediately refer the children to public hospitals and they should be isolated to prevent the disease from spreading,” said Dr Sahruddin.
He said that the disease was infectious but easily cured and advised parents, guardians and children to practise hygiene in their daily life.
Separately, Dr Sahruddin said the state government is in the midst of identifying suitable sites in Johor for the national cattle breeding project.
He said this followed announcement by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayud that Segamat district is suitable for the large scale cattle breeding.
Dr Sahruddin said there were 21 cattle satellite breeding farms in the state that could be revived as part of the national cattle breeding project.