The news comes hot on the heels of students returning in the opening weeks of returning to school after long holidays.
HFMD is a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children, characterised by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. HFMD is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus
There is currently no specific treatment for HFMD. The best parents and doctors can do is keep an infected child separated from other children and provide treatment to alleviate signs of infection.
Phuket has the third highest infection rate of hand, foot and mouth disease in Thailand, Dr Thanit Sermkaew, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), told The Phuket News today (May 27).
“Phuket has the third highest a morbidity rate (infection rate) of hand, foot and mouth disease in Thailand, but I think there is no reason to worry about the situation as the number of people infected is not high and it is quite normal for children to contract HFMD after they return to school and the rainy season returns,” he said.
Dr Thanit explained that from January 1 through May 24, the PPHO had recorded 143 patients with HFMD, giving and infection (“morbidity”) rate of 35.50 per 100,000 (based on the registered population of 402,707 people).
“There have been no deaths,” Dr Thanit confirmed, noting that HFMD is usually a mild disease, and nearly all patients recover fully in seven to 10 days without medical treatment.
“The age group affected the most was 0-4 years old, with a total 130 infants/young children infected, and 5-9 years old, with 11 children infected,” he said.
Mueang District, comprising Phuket Town and the southern end of the island, recorded 58 cases, Kathu District recorded 17 cases and Thalang District recorded 68 cases, Dr Thanit added.
“To prevent any further spread of the disease, where an individual child is found to have HFMD, we have that child not go to school for w week until the child recovers.
“Where two children in the same class are found to have HFMD, we have all the students in the same class stay at home for about one week to make sure the disease does not spread to other children, and we have the classroom cleaned thoroughly” he explained.
“However, so far this year we have not had to suspend any classes,” he added.
Dr Thanit urged parents to check their children for signs of infection, which include low fever, weakness, mouth sores and a rash on the hands and feet.
He also urged parents not to panic.
“Of course take your child to a doctor to be sure, but nearly all children recover with simple rest, good food and keeping them warm to fight the infection,” he said.
“But it is important to keep them away from other children so they don’t become infected too,” he added.
Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director-General of the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control, in a statement issued on Friday noted, “Now Thailand is entering the rainy season. The cold and humid air is conducive to the growth of various pathogens. At the same time, students are returning to school.
“Therefore, one disease that requires special attention is hand, foot and mouth disease, which is more common among children under 5 years old.
“This disease can be contracted directly by receiving the virus through the mouth. The virus may also be passed by hands or toys that are contaminated with snot, saliva, water from wound and stool or contact from coughing and sneezing,” he added.
Dr Suwanchai pointed out that from Jan 1 to May 21, the MoPH had recorded 11,107 people throughout the country as having contracted HFMD.
“The most affected age group is 1 year old, followed by 2 years old and 3 years old,” he said.
“The province with the highest a morbidity rate in Thailand is Surat Thani, followed by Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan,” Dr Suwanchai noted.