KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry may take action against premises that record a high frequency of the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak.
Its minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said places such as childcare centres and other premises should be monitored for such outbreaks.
"If the outbreaks happen more often in these places, then we may consider taking action.
"But what is more important is that the public and owners of such premises must give importance to cleanliness," he said in reply to a supplementary question raised by Wong Kah Woh (PH-Ipoh Timur) during the Ministerial Question Time in Parliament on Tuesday (July 31).
Wong had asked for official statistics on how frequent HFMD breaks out at childcare centres, preschools and kindergartens.
Dr Dzulkefly said that HFMD is an endemic disease that happens throughout the year in Malaysia.
An endemic disease is an infection that is always present at low levels in a population within a certain geographic area.
The disease, he added, is closely related to hygiene and cleanliness in the environment.
From January till July 29, Dr Dzulkefly said a total of 39,408 cases have been reported with Selangor having the highest number of cases.
Selangor has 11,669 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur (4,552), Sarawak (4,551) and Kelantan (1,666), he added.
The Ministry is also working with other agencies on a campaign to contain HFMD cases.
The campaign is based on five main points to create more public awareness, especially among operators and teachers in pre-schools, kindergartens and childcare centres.
Among the five points are hygiene, gate keeping screening and disinfection of such premises.
Dr Dzulkefly said the campaign will be carried out intensively for three weeks and involves all pre-schools, kindergartens and childcare centres.
A 17-month-old boy in Penang was the first fatality in the country due to the disease.
On July 21, a two-and-a half-year old boy from Mukah, Sarawak is also believed to have died due to HFMD.
The boy was reported to have fever on July 17 and developed rashes on his hands and feet and mouth ulcers the next day.
However, Health director-general Datuk Dr Nooh Hisham Abdullah was reported as saying that the boy's death was due to a severe lung infection on top of the HFMD infection.
Clinical samples have been taken to find out the actual cause of death.