KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has recorded a total of 2,834 cases of hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) disease so far this year.
State health director Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin said the statistics, recorded until May 16, is more than a 50-fold increase when compared to the 55 cases detected within the same period in 2021.
Dr Rose said the east coast Tawau district recorded the highest cases with 435 followed by Sandakan (387),Lahad Datu (308), Kota Belud (244) and Papar (229).
“There have been no deaths caused by HFMD so far,” she said, in a statement here on Thursday (May 19).
“A total of 93.1% of the cases involved children aged below six. A majority of the infections occurred at private homes or at early education centres.”
She added that HFMD is common among children aged below 10, with those infected showing symptoms that include blister-like lesions containing fluid appearing on the hand, foot and inside the mouth.
Dr Rose said HFMD is transmitted from one individual to another through direct contact including through mucus, saliva, faecal matter and bodily secretions from those who have been infected.
“Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to contracting the disease.
“HFMD normally occurs in a cluster of children who are grouped together in one place,” she said.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had previously said that HFMD cases in Malaysia had gone up 15 times this year compared to the same period in 2021.
Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia recorded 31,661 HFMD cases as of May 14 during epidemiology week 19.
Towards this end, Dr Rose said the Sabah health department has launched several measures to bring down infections in the state.
Besides probing the cases urgently, she said, the department has also carried out health drives and thorough checks on high-risk premises such as childcare centres (taska) and kindergartens.
“This is to assess the level of hygiene and practice of disinfecting equipment used by children so they are free from HFMD,” she said.
She said the department had also, among others, ordered for the temporary shutdown of certain premises to enable disinfection work to subsequently cut off the infection risks.
Dr Rose urged taska and kindergarten operators to give their fullest cooperation to prevent the spread of HFMD at the respective premises.
This include carrying out compulsory screenings for symptoms at the entrance to their premises, washing hands with soap and clean water after handling children as well as training children to wash their hands properly.