Malaysia health officials are reporting a 28 percent increase in cases of the viral disease, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) during the first six months of 2018. As of June 30, 2018, the number of cases reported was 27,296 cases compared to just 21,303 cases in the same period in 2017, officials report.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) Image/shawn c
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Image/shawn c

With the exception of Johor, Sabah and Sarawak states, all others have seen higher than average number of cases.

To date, throughout Malaysia, 341 nurseries / kindergartens / pre-schools have reported HFMD clusters at their premises, which is 50% of the total epidemic reported this year. HFMD virus surveillance also found increased EV71 virus activity in the environment since March 2018.

HFMD’s disease is caused by enterovirus with a majority of cases caused by Coxsackie Virus A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71). The virus spreads in contact with saliva, blister fluid and patient stool. Infection habits are mild (mild) with symptoms of fever followed by blisters on the hands, feet, mouth and tongue. Almost all patients with HFMD disease recovered without treatment within seven (7) to ten (10) days.

However, EV71 infection can cause severe complications such as encephalitis, pulmonary edema and myocarditis.

Hence, MOH urges the public, especially the entrepreneurs and guardians of children in nursery / kindergarten / kindergarten / pre-school to:

  • Always ensure the cleanliness of premises, especially equipment and appliances used by children;
  • Make a screen at the entrance to ensure that children do not have HFMD infection. Children with symptoms are advised not to attend school to avoid infection to their friends;
  • Always practice personal hygiene including hand washing after managing a child before handling other children;
  • Ensure disposable diapers are disposed of in closed trash cans; and
  • Reporting the HFMD cluster to nearby district health offices for control and prevention measures.

The MOH also wishes to advise parents or guardians on children with signs of HFMD infection to:

  • Do not bring children to public places / schools / nurseries / kindergartens / nurseries as it may spread infections;
  • Adopting a culture of handwashing with soap and clean water after toilets, after changing diapers and after touching / treating blisters;
  • Cleaning the child’s playground as well as the floor of the house including the toilet using a mixed chlorine solution; and
  • Ensure disposal of disposable diapers is done correctly.