By John Noel E. Herrera
Cases of the contagious hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in Iloilo province have surpassed the 1,000-mark, according to Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO).
IPHO head Dr. Maria Soccoro Colmenares-Quiñon said they detected 441 cases in just a week (Jan 29 to Feb 4), raising the total number of cases to 1,115 from 674 recorded cases on Jan 1 to 28, 2023.
Quiñon said the cases this year are 2,004 percent higher compared to 53 cases reported in the same period in 2022.
HFMD has been detected in 483 barangays in Iloilo province so far.
Only nine Iloilo towns remain HFMD-free so far – Dingle, Ajuy, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, Guimbal, San Enrique, San Joaquin, and Sara.
The town of Santa Barbara has the highest number of cases with 100, followed by Barotac Viejo with 82; Badiangan (78); Alimodian (77); Calinog (69); Bingawan (65); Leon (49); Passi City (48); Dumangas (43), and Pavia with 42 cases, while the rest of the cases are spread in other towns.
Data from the Iloilo Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) also indicated that children one to 10 years old accounted for the most number of cases with 1,023 cases; followed by less than one-year-old with 66 cases; 11 to 20 years old with 20 cases; 31 to 40 years old with four cases, and 21 to 30 years old, and 41 years old and above with one case each.
With some adults also infected by HFMD, Quiñon reminded the public of the importance of good hygiene and emphasized that the disease could also cause miscarriage, or stillbirth, for pregnant women if they were infected.
“Nobody is spared kay tanan pwede gid malatnan sang HFMD. So, isa sa pamaagi para pwede naton ini malikawan is ang frequent handwashing, kung hindi kapamunlaw with soap and water, pwede gid nga with alcohol,” Quiñon said.
“Dako ang risgo nga ma-abortion or ma-miscarriage, ukon ang ila bata ma stillbirth, kapin pa kung ang nanay naga-busong siya kag na-infect siya sang HFMD sang lapit na siya manug-bata, ti ang maapektuhan ang bata, nga basi magka-severe disease,” she also stressed.
The IPHO urged parents to keep their children at home if they have symptoms, like blisters on hands and feet, and fever, and to seek medical attention in their rural health units.
Quiñon also that the municipal health offices and the PHO have been working on the ground for the conduct of information education campaigns in villages and schools to prevent the spread of HFMD cases.
Despite the spike in cases, Quiñon said that there is no need to declare an outbreak or state of calamity status, as the cases are still manageable, citing that some of the infected individuals have already recovered since they were reported during the first three weeks of January 2023.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines HFMD as a common viral illness that mostly affects infants and children below five years old. It is also usually a mild disease, and nearly all patients recover in seven to 10 days without medical treatment.