HFMD: Over 47,000 cases reported this year

Malaysia is experiencing a sudden spike in Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases.

Since the start of the year till May 21, the nation has recorded 47,209 HFMD cases. According to a statement by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the current number of cases is 20 times more compared to the same period, last year.

To date, two HFMD patients have been admitted to the intensive care unit following complications (encephalitis). Both patients are aged below six.

What is HFMD?

HFMD is a virus infection that causes sores and ulcers inside, or around mouths, blisters on hands, feet, legs, or buttocks. It is common among children. HFMD spreads through coughing or sneezing, kissing, hugging, sharing of utensils, being in contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus, or contact with faeces.

In Malaysia, three main viruses have been identified as the cause of the spread – Coxsackie A16 (CA16), Coxsackie A6 (CA6) and Enterovirus 71 (EV71).

Why the spike?

Dr Noor Hisham believes it could be due to the mass movement of people during the recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

Which state recorded the highest number of cases?

Since the start of the year to May 21, Selangor tops the chart with 13,640 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (6,206 cases), Perak (4,099 cases) and Kelantan (3,726 cases).

Which age group is affected the most in Malaysia?

Six, and below: 43,736 cases (93 per cent)
Seven, to 12: 2,765 cases (six per cent)
12, and above: 696 (one per cent)

Where are the outbreaks happening?

Dr Noor Hisham said there were 1,168 outbreaks reported nationwide, with Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya recording the highest (413 outbreaks), followed by Selangor (143), and Perak (130).

Most of the outbreaks occurred at kindergartens, nurseries, and pre-schools (711 outbreaks).

What is the plan?

The Health Ministry carried out engagement sessions and briefed premises owners on measures to curb HFMD from spreading. The measures include:

  • screening for symptoms at the entrance.
  • washing hands frequently.
  • disinfecting toys and floors with chlorine-based solutions.
  • disposing of diapers in covered bins.

The ministry will continue to make announcements regarding HFMD, and conduct checks at premises.

What is Dr Noor Hisham’s advice?

“The public, especially parents, are advised against taking their children to places where there is a risk of infection, such as public playgrounds. The public is also urged to report HFMD cases in nurseries, kindergartens and schools with the nearest district health office, so that control measures can be taken.”