Between April 24 to April 30, a total of 22,463 hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) cases were reported nationwide, with 96% of them involving children under the age of six.
Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of health, told reporters that the figures presented a 12.8-fold spike over the same duration last year, when there were below 2000 cases.
He claimed that HFMD had infected 96% or 21,508 children under the age of six, while 729 others, or 3%, were between the ages of seven and twelve.
According to him, adults aged 18 to 55 made up the remaining 1%.
“In Malaysia, 767 outbreaks were reported, with the three states with the highest numbers being Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with 259, Selangor with 100, and Perak with 98.”
“The majority of the outbreaks occurred in kindergartens, nurseries, and preschools, with 600 cases, followed by private homes with 186 and childcare centres with 26,” he explained yesterday.
HFMD is caused by enterovirus infection, with the majority of cases caused by Coxsackie Virus A16 and Enterovirus 71. (EV71).
The viruses, he added, spread through saliva contact, blisters, or faeces of HFMD patients, whose infection is typically mild with fever and blistering rash on the hand, feet, mouth and tongue.
“Without treatment, nearly all HFMD patients will recover in seven to ten days. However, EV71 infection can lead to serious complications like encephalitis, pulmonary edoema, and myocarditis,” he stated.
According to Ijid Online, severe cases may prove fatal due to neurological and cardiopulmonary complications.
Dr. Noor Hisham also advised parents to take their children to a clinic or hospital if they show signs of infection and to keep them away from childcare centres, nurseries, kindergartens, schools, and public places.
Additionally, he advised citizens to refrain from sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, handkerchiefs, towels, blankets, cups, forks, and spoons.
Lastly, he emphasised the importance of proper hand washing with soap, cleaning toys and table surfaces, chairs, and floors at least twice a day, and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
He stated that the ministry will collaborate with its equivalents and other agencies to strengthen preventive measures and emphasise the importance of practises such as self-hygiene, proper hand washing and environmental hygiene in order to reduce the risk of HFMD infections.
This step includes contaminated surface disinfection and gatekeeping screenings at kindergartens, nurseries, preschools, and schools.
So far, there have been no HFMD cases reported for those aged 13 to 17, as well as those over the age of 55.