Health officials in the Philippines have seen a significant,in fact a three-fold increase in the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases reported during the first half of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.
The Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health reported 563 HFMD cases through the end of June 2015, while only reporting 180 in the corresponding period in 2014.
The regions reporting the largest increases include the Cordillera Administrative Region (2) with it’s regional center in Baguio (5 cases in 2014/141 in 2015), Calabarzon Region (4A) with it’s regional center in Calamba (2014-23/2015-116) and Northern Mindanao Region (10) with it’s regional center in Cagayan de Oro (2014-21/2015-94).
HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.
- Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the United States, but other coxsackieviruses have been associated with the illness.
- Enterovirus 71 has also been associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease and outbreaks of this disease.
EV-71 has been implicated in HFMD outbreaks in Southeast Asia over the several years. EV 71 is a non-polio enterovirus.
Complications associated with HFMD caused by the more pathogenic EV-71 strain include encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, acute flaccid paralysis, pulmonary edema or hemorrhage and myocarditis. Most deaths in HFMD occur as a result of pulmonary edema or hemorrhage.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
A person can lower their risk of being infected by
- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys.
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease.
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