First HFMD Casualty

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Child in Sarawak dies from suspected HFMD infection.

The Education Ministry is still awaiting the full report on the death of a two-year boy in Mukah, Sarawak from suspected hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), said Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

She said the ministry needed to ascertain if the incident stemmed from school or public areas.

“If two cases are confirmed in the same classroom, the classroom concerned will be closed for a period of 14 days in accordance with the Health Ministry’s standard operating procedure (SOP).

Yusof Mat Isa

“The closure of the school or classroom will depend on the Health Ministry’s directive and at the same, teachers at the school are also asked to examine their pupils for HFMD symptoms and they will be brought immediately to the nearest clinic,” she told reporters.

The case in Mukah is believed to be the first such fatality reported in the HFMD outbreak so far this year.

In a statement on Saturday, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the child began to have a fever on July 24 and showed signs of rashes on the palms and feet, as well as oral ulcers the next day.

“The child was taken to the Daro health clinic on July 25, 2018, diagnosed with suspected HFMD and given treatment.

“On Friday (July 27), the child was taken to the Emergency and Trauma Department at Daro Hospital in an unstable condition and referred to Sibu Hospital for future treatment.

“However, the child died at Sibu Hospital at 2.08am on July 28, with the cause of death being severe pneumonia with HFMD infection.

“Clinical samples were taken to verify the cause of death,” he added.

The health ministry has advised the public, especially those with young children, to take precautions to reduce their risk of being infected. This includes personal hygiene and avoiding public places.

Top of the list is to wash one’s hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet, before preparing food, after changing diapers and after cleaning up children’s faeces.

It is also advisable to avoid bringing children to high-risk public places such as shopping malls and playgrounds.

HFMD is a viral disease which could spread, especially through the Coxsackie A16 and EV71 virus, through contact with saliva, blisters and faeces.

Public health specialist in the health ministry’s Disease Control Division, Dr Norita Shamsudin said although HFMD was a mildly infectious contagious disease, the risks were high if not treated early.

“Viral infections, especially EV71, can cause complications like dehydration, brain inflammation, heart and lung failure, and ultimately death.”

Since Jan 1, 539 premises throughout the country have been closed after outbreaks, 241 of them nurseries, 259 kindergartens and 39 schools.