Keeping HFMD cases down

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HFMD cases may be down but local preschools are still vigilant about sterilization.

Fight hand foot mouth disease

Fight hand foot mouth disease

According to figures from the Health Ministry; hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases have gone down.  Comparing data between this year and last, from January to July, the number of cases have reduced by about 40%.

Dr Kevin Chua, 37, a family physician whose clinic is in Alexandra Village, said: “Given the number of cases last year, I guess teachers are more vigilant and will err on the side of caution.  More educational materials, regular updates and reminders are also given to parent so they are more aware of the disease’s symptoms and know when to keep their children at home.”

Dr Chua also mentions that this year he sees only about a handful of children with the disease in a month compared to an average of two cases a week last year.

The Health Ministry added that HFMD figures “may fluctuate depending on various factors, such as immunity levels to the various viruses, increased awareness and reporting of HFMD, and good hygiene practices”.

HFMD is a mild childhood disease that is endemic here.  It is spread via bodily fluids, such as saliva, and easily transmitted among toddlers.  Unfortunately, it can be fatal when it involves the E71 strain; where in severe cases, could affect the child’s nervous system.  This would then cause encephalitis – the swelling of the brain lining – before resulting in death.

In an outbreak here in 2000 to 2001, seven children dies from HFMD.  In 2008, a three-year-old boy became a victim of this same disease.  Childcare centre PCF Sparkletots Braddell Heights in Serangoon Avenue 2 reported 22 cases of HFMD from June 30 to July 5 this year. Although all of the current cases this year has been mild, the school is taking no chances.  They said that steps have been taken to ensure that parents are informed and that the premises are disinfected.

Parent Danny Loo, 39, whose six-year-old son goes to the centre said: “We have been informed and most parents have been letting their children stay at home.  I believe the school will handle the situation well so I’m not too worried.”

Despite a lower count of cases, most pre-school and childcare centers here continue to be vigilant.  There is no cause for panic however, parents are reminded to monitor their child’s health and to keep the child at home if found sick.

Has your child been a victim of HFMD?  What precautions has your child’s school been taking to keep the disease at bay? Share with us.

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