Health authorities have sounded the alarm following reports that the number of hand, foot and mouth diseases (HFMD) jumped by 286 percent in 2017, compared to the same period last year, where only 527 cases were recorded.

Samples were collected from all regions in the country between January 1 to September 2, according to the Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response, an agency under the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health.

There were 2,038 suspected cases of HFMD recorded. Hoof, foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease that mostly targets children and presents with fever, mouth sores, rash, and blisters on the hands, feet and buttocks. The World Health Organization has previous noted it is prevalent in many Asian countries.

The report said majority of the reported HFMD cases came from Region 6 (520 cases), the National Capital Region (262 cases), and Region 4A, with 229 cases, accounting for nearly half of the cases recorded in the country.

One patient has died of the disease in Region 7.

The male population accounted for bulk of the cases at 1,174 or 57.61 percent, while there were 864 females afflicted or 42,39 percent.

Children aged between 1 to 4 years old make up the majority of the cases with 68.8 percent, about 1,403. One year old is the median age, said the department. Children under 10 years of age are more likely to be susceptible to the infection.

In terms of enterovirus distribution, following confirmation of cases based on laboratory testing, coxsackievirus A6, enterovirus, coxsackievirus a16, mixed enterovirus and coxsackievirus a16, enterovirus 71 were found.

HFMD is considered a mild disease, in which patients can recover within 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. Dehydration is a common complication of the disease, this is mainly related with the painful mouth sores.

HFMD can be spread through throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, and stool. Infected patients are most contagious during the first week, said WHO. The virus is also known to persist in stools.

Management for HFMD remains supportive such as water hydration and symptomatic treatment for fever and pain from ulcers. MIMS

Read more:

Hand hygience: What if HCPs did not wash hands?