Four Thai children develop symptoms like hand, foot and mouth disease

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KANCHANABURI, July 10 – Four two-year-old children in a childcare centre in Kanchanaburi have developed symptoms similar to those of hand, foot and mouth disease and tests are being conducted to determine the virus strain.

After the cases were detected, the childcare centre at Chaichumponchanasongkram Temple in Kanchanaburi’s provincial seat, which accommodates 155 children, was closed for a week to investigate the source of the disease, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said on Tuesday.

Five children have been separated from other children and taken to hospital to have their body fluids tested in further diagnosis.

Initially, four children developed symptoms of apparent hand foot and mouth disease with ulcers in their mouths and on their tongues, while some have a rash with small blisters on their hands and feet. The other child with fever is being closely monitored.

The deputy minister said the ministry ordered public health offices in all provinces to keep watch for the disease, particularly in the provinces along the Thai-Cambodian border after 52 children out of 59 previously undiagnosed cases have died since mid-April.

Recent laboratory results showed “a significant proportion of the samples tested positive for Enterovirus 71 (EV-71)”, which causes a lethal strain of hand, foot and mouth disease, Agence France Presse news agency reporting the joint statement of the World Health Organisation and Cambodian public health ministry.

Cambodia is working with the World Health Organisation to investigate the spread of the virus and to contain the disease.

Hand, foot and mouth disease symptoms were also found in children under the age of five in Thailand with full recovery in one week.  The virus strain detected in Thailand is not as severe as the lethal strain detected in Cambodia, the minister said.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is contagious and spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids or faeces of an infected person.