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Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease | What Parents Should Know

Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD) is an infection caused by viruses from the enterovirus group which includes enteroviruses, coxsackie viruses, echoviruses and polioviruses.

In a news report by Malay Mail on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 31,661 cases of HFMD were recorded which is 15 times more than the previous record within the same epidemiology week (EW) last year.

Health director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham in a statement on Tuesday explained that Malaysia has recorded 1,676 HFMD cases in the previous EW report compared to this week's shocking 7,526 cases which is a 349 per cent increase.

“In 2022, until May 14, Selangor contributed the largest number of cases compared to other states with 8,864 cases (28 per cent) followed by Kuala Lumpur & Putrajaya 4,421 cases (14 per cent), Sabah 2,650 cases (8 per cent), Perak 2,638 cases (8 per cent) and Kelantan 2,493 cases (7.9 per cent) while other states around or less than 1,500 cases,” he said.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, a total of 889 outbreaks were reported where the three highest states were Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with 309 outbreaks and Selangor with 111 outbreaks followed by Perak 105 outbreaks.

While HFMD is related to hygiene and able to quickly and easily spread within children under 10 years old with 100 per cent infection rate, Dr Noor Hisham explained that the majority of the outbreaks started in kindergartens, nurseries and preschools followed by private homes and childcare centres.

As the cases of HFMD are rapidly rising in Malaysia, parents need to be more alert in taking care of their kids' hygiene in order to avoid them from being infected with the disease when they are outside and exposed with strangers and foreign objects.

Signs & Symptoms of HFMD

  • Ulcers in mouth

  • Fever

  • Dehydration

  • Loss of appetite

  • Red spots on palms, elbows, knees, soles or buttocks (usually not itchy but may turn into blisters)

However, Mums and Dads need to be alert that some children (or adults) who are infected with HFMD may not experience any symptoms mentioned above. So, please be careful and always be attentive on your children's health and everyday condition.

HFMD virus may be transmitted through various mediums and methods as listed below.

Transmission of HFMD

  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects

  • Close contact with HFMD-infected person

  • Coughing and/or sneezing

  • Contact with blister fluids or faeces

  • Sharing utensils or towels or toothbrush

As a sidenote, a person with HFMD is most infectious in the first week of illness. Thus, if your child is infected with HFMD, it is advisable for Mums and Dads to isolate your child until the fever or other symptoms they experience are gone.

There is currently no specific medicine or vaccination to kill the viruses of HFMD, but HFMD-infected people will be prescribed with medicines depending on the symptoms they experience.

Remember to take your child to your nearest clinic or hospital and get a doctor's advice if they show any symptoms of HFMD.

Watch our Paediatrics Resident Consultant explain the signs and symptoms of HFMD on TV3's Malaysia Hari Ini below.

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