With 39,174 hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases reported to date since Jan 1, our neighbouring country Malaysia is struggling to contain the outbreak happening all across the country. As parents of young children continue to worry about the ongoing situation, this infectious disease has recently claimed its first fatality – a 17-month-old toddler boy.
Malaysian Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye told reporters that the toddler was first admitted to a private hospital in Penang on 3 June. He had difficulty breathing, ulcers in the mouth, and was suffering from the flu. Despite receiving treatment, his condition continued to deteriorate. Sadly, the toddler died three days later on 6 June.
17-Month-Old Dies of HFMD
After running some tests, specialists confirmed that the toddler had indeed died due to HFMD. It was Enterovirus 71 (EV71), known to cause HFMD, that caused complications during his lung infection.
With 2,894 cases in Penang, an increase of 116 per cent compared to last year, Dr Lee assured reporters that the ministry is already stepping up efforts to contain the outbreak.
“Teachers have been asked to screen pupils before they enter their schools. The ministry is also making available disinfectants to clean classrooms, playing materials and have also asked shopping centres to disinfect trolleys and playpens,” said Dr Lee.
In a separate case, a two-and-a-half-year-old boy died in Mukah, Sarawak. His death is believed to be due to HFMD. However, authorities are still waiting on test results to confirm this.
HFMD is extremely contagious and can spread from one person to another by droplet, saliva as well as contact with fluid from inside the blisters. The virus can also be in faeces for up to several weeks after being infected. Hence the need for daycare regulations for hand, foot and mouth disease in the event of an outbreak to prevent it from spreading.
The incubation period of HFMD is three to five days. Victims usually start showing symptoms anywhere from day three to day seven of being infected. And these symptoms can last between seven to 10 days and for that duration the child is contagious.
DO keep your child at home for the duration of the illness or until fluids in their blisters have dried.
Daycare Regulations for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
Parents can do their part in ensuring that their children’s daycare and preschool centres maintain high standards of personal as well as environmental hygiene. Of course, not all premises will follow all these daycare regulations for hand foot and mouth disease to the tee. However, parents can feel more assured if serious steps are being taken to minimise the risks.
- Teachers will check the overall health of each child upon arrival. Children with any unusual symptoms or behaviour should be removed from the child care centre for further assessment.
- Children with HFMD should stay at home, away from school, childcare,
playgroup, kindergarten and crowded public places until the fluid in the blisters
- Both staff and children must wash their hands frequently with liquid soap and running water, washing vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Children must dry their hands with their own individual towels.
- No sharing of food, utensils, drinking cups and other personal items.
- Proper disinfection of communal toys (with household bleach), eating utensils and towels
contaminated by droplet, saliva, vesicular fluid or faeces of infected cases.
- Separate toys should be provided for each child group so that no sharing occurs between groups. This will limit the exposure of the infectious agents to only a single group during disease outbreaks.
- Stuffed toys are discouraged, i.e. toys that are difficult to sanitise.