Last update 2/21/2012 11:05:37 AM (GMT+7)

Cases of hand, foot and mouth disease rocket

VietNamNet Bridge – The number of cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in the first 6 weeks of the year has reached 6,328. The number is 7.3 times higher than in the same period of a year earlier, and 9 cases have been fatal, the Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department reported.

A child contracting the hand, foot and mouth being treated at the Pediatrics Hospital I in HCM City. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

The developments of the disease in the past one and a half months showed that the this year the illness would likely be more serious than last year, when about 100,000 people suffered from the disease and nearly 200 children died, Tran Thanh Duong, deputy head of the department, warned.

Last year the HFMD peaked in April-May and again in August-September, but this year the disease has sharply increased in the first months, prompting the belief that a more complex and serious epidemic situation may, he said.

According to the ministry’s statistics, high numbers of HFMD patients in the past 6 weeks have been recorded in 10 provinces and cities, namely Hai Phong, Dong Thap, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Can Tho, Ca Mau, Dak Lak, An Giang, Vinh Long and Hau Giang.

So far this year, 124 children in Ho Chi Minh City have suffered from the disease, an increase of 18 patients compared to the same period last year. The number of wards or communes having at least 2 patients has increased to 28 from 13 in the sixth week. With 4 patients, Binh Chanh District’s Binh Hung commune has led the city in the number of HMFD sufferers so far.

As of mid February, the number of children with HMFD in Vinh Long was 128, an increase of 40 from a year earlier, and one of them has died.

In Can Tho, 600 children have been admitted to the Can Tho Pediatrics Hospital since the beginning of the year, and 3 of them have died. The local health authorities have cleaned the environment and sprayed antiseptic at affected areas and their surroundings. Can Tho authorities have also launched a campaign for environmental hygiene across the city, especially in schools, kindergartens and families with children under 5 years old.

Meanwhile, patient overload has occurred in the Obstetrics-Pediatrics Center of the Da Nang General Hospital in the central city of Da Nang, where 140 children have been hospitalized despite the center having only 40 official sickbeds. These children were not only from the city but also from Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces.

Dr Nguyen Tam Lang, head of the Epidemiology and Entomology Department at the center, forecast that HFMD will have unforeseen developments this year and the disease will spread widely in central provinces.

From January 6 to February 12, 2012, the city had 46 children with HFMD, while during February 2011, only 4 children were found to have contracted the disease, the doctor said.
As of February 19, 2012 the number of HFMD patients had increased to 61, he added.

17 working teams to be set up

This week the ministry will send 5 working teams to the affected localities to assist local authorities in controlling, preventing and driving back the epidemic, said Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long.

The Preventive Health Department will also set up 12 additional teams to give support to local authorities, Duong said.

Long requested local health authorities strengthen their efforts to combat the epidemic and that hospitals review their therapy regimens to make them more appropriate for each type of patient.

The ministry will report the epidemic situation to the Government and propose that it establish an interdisciplinary steering board to fight the epidemic nationwide, he said.

VietNamNet/Tuoi Tre