Rise in hand, foot, mouth cases

The number of children contracting hand, foot mouth disease (HFMD) is on the rise even though the peak season is still one month away, Children Hospitals Nos 1 and 2 in HCM City have announced.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh, head of the Infection and Neurology Department at Children’s Hospital No1, said that nearly 20 children were hospitalized due to HFMD in the past three days, which brings the total number of infected children to 39.

According to Khanh, 28 of the cases involve serious nerve complications that require special treatment. More than 60 percent of the patients live in the city, while the rest come from neighbouring areas.

Dr Tran Van Thao, deputy head of Children Hospital No 2, said the hospital received 32 children with HFMD-an increase of 50 percent during the last week.

An 18-month-old baby was reported to have been in critical condition and died 20 hours after being hospitalized.

The peak season of the illness is between April and May. However, early hot weather has led to a sudden onset of illness among children. The EV71 virus is known to cause high fever with blisters appearing on the mouth, palms or on the soles of the feet.

Doctors have warned that it’s easy to misdiagnose the disease as scabies. Parents should take their children to hospital immediately if they are showing symptoms to avoid complications, such as heart failure, lung swelling or brain damage.

Currently, there are no vaccines or specific remedies to cure the disease, according to the doctor.