HFMD cases exceed warning levels, says ministry

PETALING JAYA: The number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in Malaysia has increased by 28% as at June 30, said the Health Ministry.

The ministry’s director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said as at end of June this year, the number of cases stood at 27,296 compared with 21,303 cases for the same period in 2017.

“The number of cases in 12 states has exceeded the warning levels, except in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. The warning levels are the average number of HFMD cases over the past five years and the figures are different according to the number of cases in every state,” said Dr Noor Hisham yesterday.

He said currently, there are 341 preschools, daycare centres or kindergartens that have reported HFMD clusters in their premises, which is 50% of the total outbreak reported for the year.

Surveillance of the HFMD virus has also shown an increase in the Enterovirus-71 (EV71) in the environment since March.

The 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 hand, foot, mouth and tongue.

“Almost all patients with HFMD recover without treatment within seven to 10 days.

“However, the EV71 infection can cause more complications such as encephalitis, pulmonary edema and myocarditis.

“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 daycare centres or kindergartens.

In Iskandar Puteri, State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said Johor recorded a spike in HMFD cases, with 1,812 cases from January until July 11 this year compared with 1,505 cases for the whole of 2017.

“Parents are advised not to send their children below 12 years old to childcare centres, kindergartens and schools if they show HMFD symptoms,” he told reporters during the Johor Agriculture Department Hari Raya open house at Bangunan Sultan Ismail, Kota Iskandar here.

In Seremban, state Health director Dr Zainudin Mohd Ali said 1,147 HFMD cases were reported in Negri Sembilan in the first 27 weeks of the year – an increase of 114% compared to 536 cases reported in the corresponding period of 2017.

He said following this, his department took measures to control the spread of the hand, foot and mouth disease and this was successful with fewer cases reported.

“We now have an average 19 cases per week as against 37 reported during week 23,” he added.

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