Eighteen schools in Bangkok have been closed temporarily due to the outbreak of viral hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), with more than 12,500 HFMD cases reported nationwide since the beginning of this year.
Bangkok deputy governor Malinee Sukvejvorakij said on Tuesday the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has kept a close watch for the possible spread of HFMD at various schools since January.
Students found to have been infected were usually told to stop attending classes to prevent it from spreading.
According to the city health department, the number of children with HFMD rose to 860 in June but dropped to 391 in July.
Dr Malinee said 73 BMA-run schools had reported HFMD cases so far. Eighteen of these schools have now been ordered closed and some classes at 11 others suspended.
The disease was under control, she said.
Deputy government spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said a total of 12,581 HFMD cases were reported throughout the country from Jan 1 to July 5, 2012.
Mr Anusorn said the average rate was 19.8 infections per 100,000 people, but there were no reports of death from the disease. Only one patient, in Nan province, was reported to be in a serious condition.
Since the possibility is high that the disease will spread further, the cabinet on Tuesday approved the Public Health Ministry’s proposal to take measures to prevent and control HFMD.
The measures are for the Public Health Ministry to mete out preventive measures and precautions, put all health offices on alert, watch for interference, launch a public relations campaign to educate the people on the disease, set up a war room in provinces with more than 10 HFMD cases per day, and seek cooperation to combat the disease from other government agencies, he said.
Special attention must be given to nurseries and schools, the spokesman said.
In Rayong, provincial public health chief Krit Palasuth said 316 cases of HFMD were found in the eastern province between Jan 1 an July 10, the 5th in terms of numbers in the country, but none of patients died.
The highest number of HFMD cases was 251 in Muang district, followed by 17 in Ban Khai district, and 13 in Pluak Daeng district.
Dr Krit said his office had instructed all nurseries and all public and private-run schools to step up preventive measures such as washing hands and eating freshly cooked food.
Factories have been instructed not to let alien workers, especially from Cambodia, go back for a home visit during this time because they could possibly bring into the country the disease on their return, he said.
In Nan, Public health officials are visiting nurseries and schools in the northern province where 193 HFMD cases have been reported to the provincial health office since the beginning of the year.
Dr Pisith Sriprasert, the Nan public health chief, said most of the HFMD cases were founded in Bo Klua district near the border with Laos. Others were found in Na Muen, Chiang Klang, Ban Luang and Thung Chang districts.
No schools had been closed. Students found to have contracted the disease were told to stay home until they recovered, he said.
Medical authorities say HFMD is a viral infection, usually mild, that most often affects babies and children.
According to the world famous Mayo Clinic in the US:
“The usual period from initial infection to the onset of signs and symptoms (incubation period) is three to seven days. A fever is often the first sign of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, followed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite and malaise. One or two days after the fever begins, painful sores may develop in the mouth or throat. A rash on the hands and feet and possibly on the buttocks can follow within one or two days.
“Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is usually a minor illness causing only a few days of fever and relatively mild signs and symptoms. Contact your doctor, however, if mouth sores or a sore throat keep your child from drinking fluids. Contact your doctor also if after a few days, your child’s signs and symptoms worsen.”