By John Noel E. Herrera
With high cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) recorded in the province, and some adults also infected by it, Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) head Dr. Marria Socorro Colmenares-Qunion warned that HFMD might cause miscarriage, or stillbirth, for pregnant women if they were infected.
“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 ang bata,” Colmenares-Quiñon stressed.
“That is why kinahanglan nga magpa pre-natal gid ni kag i-surveillance ang bata para i-avoid ang mga complication,” she added.
The IPHO head also noted that the province recorded 224 cases of HFMD from Jan 1 to 22, 2023, which is higher compared to only two reported cases in the same period last year.
Data from the Iloilo Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) indicated that children aged one to 10 years old accounted for the most number of cases with 202 cases, followed by less than one-year-old with 13 cases; 11 to 20 years old with 6 cases; 31 to 40 years old with two cases, and 41 to 50 years old with one case.
Colmenares-Quiñon also revealed that there were already 24 towns in the province that have recorded HFMD cases so far.
The town of Pavia has the highest number of cases with 29, followed by Barotac Viejo with 23; San Dioniso (21); Bingawan (20); Calinog (16); Barotac Nuevo (15); Lemery (13); Leon (12); Pototan (10); and towns of Santa Barbara, Banate and Lambunao with nine cases, respectively, while the rest of the cases are spread in other towns.
She attributed the surge in cases this year to the change in the health-seeking behaviour of the public, as they do not hesitate to seek help from physicians or in their rural health units when they have HFMD symptoms.
Colmenares-Quiñon also emphasized the importance of good hygiene and advised parents to make sure that their children observe it, such as frequent hand washing to lessen the risk of catching the disease.
“Ini malikawan kung permi kita naga-handwashing, naga-alcohol or practice of hand hygiene. Dapat permi naton gina disinfect ang mga permi ginatandog nga surfaces like doorknobs, toys, kag iban pa nga gina-touch frequently sang most affected age group,” she said.
She added that HFMD is contagious, especially when there is contact with lesions and blisters, and emphasized that those infected by the disease should have their own separate utensils, toys, and other personal items to use.
Infected individuals also need to avoid face-to-face activities like attending school and going out of the community, until such time that the visible lesions are healed to avoid infecting other people.
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.
The disease commonly spreads through droplets or direct contact with nasal discharges, saliva, feces, and fluid from the rashes of an infected individual, while HFMD symptoms include fever that may last 24 to 48 hours, painful mouth sores and rashes, blisters on the hands and feet, sore throat, and loss of appetite.