HFMD is a common illness of children (not the same disease as foot-and-mouth disease of cattle, sheep, and swine). It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth & a rash with blisters. HFMD begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise ("feeling sick") & frequently a sore throat. One or two days after the fever begins, sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister & then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums & inside of the cheeks. The skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash does not itch & it is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also appear on the buttocks. The most common cause is coxsackievirus A16; occasionally, other strains of coxsackievirus A or enterovirus 71 cause HFMD. Source: Healthlink
HFMD is back with 5 fatalities this year. Sibu registered the most cumulative number of cases of HFMD since the outbreak with 1,561, followed by Bintulu (530), Kuching (411), Miri (288) and Sarikei (254). A total of 488 kindergartens and 534 pre-schools have already been ordered to close temporarily. New Straits Times' excerpts:
- On comments by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua that the current and past HFMD outbreaks could be connected to the mighty Sungai Rajang, Dr Chan said the Federal and State Governments had agreed to conduct research on the matter. In 1997, 30 children aged below 10 died of HFMD. One death was reported in 2000 and three in 2003. "We want to find out why this is so because the HFMD outbreak seems to occur in central Sarawak, from Kapit in the deep interior down to Sarikei at the mouth of Sungai Rejang."
Is the majestic Rejang River the vehicle that transported HFMD? In the old days, the only HFMD "disease" I can recall was:
- Hand - "Snake skin disease" (shingles) would grow on your hand if you had pointed at a snake. This was an adult scare tactic to remind kids not to stretch their hands at snakes (to avoid being struck). There were even snakes in the unpaved drains around the football field in town (padang).
- Foot - There were not many paved lanes in town in the 70's. Nails & broken glasses lurked around the soil in the lanes waiting for your foot.
- Mouth - Foul expletives in dialects like Foochow, Hokkien and Cantonese were cool with the kids. Those were the first few words kids learned about another language.