GEORGE TOWN, Jul 7 – A total of 1,555 hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases were reported in Penang from January to July 4, up 48% compared to the corresponding period last year.
The chairman of the state Committee on Health, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development Dr Afif Bahardin said for the same period, 53 nurseries, kindergartens and pre-schools reported HFMD clusters at their premises and it increased by 381% compared to just 11 clusters reported over the same period last year.
“We have received information from the Penang State Health Department regarding the increase in the number of HFMD cases which can easily infect others, especially children in premises such as nurseries and kindergartens.
“All the infected patients received outpatient treatment. I also want to refute recent social media reports that claimed a child died in Butterworth after contracting the disease,” he told reporters after the launching of a course on Parkinson’s Disease Development here, by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
HFMD is a disease caused by the virus and the symptoms include fever, rash in the palms, feet and ulcers in the mouth and tongue, as well as upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).
The disease is typical of the types of Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71), and the virus spreads when there’s contact with saliva, blisters and the stools of patients..
Dr Afif advised employers and caregivers of nurseries, kindergartens, and pre-schools to keep the premises clean especially equipment and tools to ensure that children present no signs of HFMD infections.
He said that people are advised to seek immediate treatment at a nearby hospital or clinic if they showed signs and symptoms of HFMD. Personal hygiene including regular hand-washing and proper coughing habits are practices that must be strictly adhered to.
Dr Afif also advised parents not to send their children to nurseries or schools if they were found to have HFMD symptoms. They must be quarantined at home until they are completely well, he said. — Bernama