By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbong expressed alarm on the unabated spread of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in the province, the highest so far in Western Visayas.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) cases in the province increased by 6,600 percent from January to February 4, 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to Tumimbang.
From five cases last year, cases went up to 315 this year so far, according to a report from the Provincial Health Office.
HFMD is a highly contagious viral disease affecting various life stages but occurs most often in children.
Infection can be transmitted by person-to-person contact through nose and throat secretions, saliva nasal mucus, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.
In his report submitted to Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Tumimbang disclosed that Kabankalan City has the highest number of HFMD cases with 73.
“HFMD is common among young children under five years old, although anyone could still get infected,” Tumimbang said.
Although HFMD is very contagious, the illness is, however, not serious, he added though that in extreme cases, it could be fatal.
“Especially if there is a secondary bacterial infection,” Tumimbang told reporters on Friday.
Symptoms include fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on the hands, feet, and buttocks.
However, severe symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis, and polio may occur.
HFMD has become an important public health disease due to its tendency to cause large outbreaks and deaths among infants and children.
The PHO sounded the alarm bells for local government units, especially their respective municipal and health offices to intensify information drives on how to avoid HFMD such as observing minimum public health standards.
Tumimbang said it is also very important to observe proper hygiene.