Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Thailand not new strains

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BANGKOK, July 18 – The cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) currently being found in Thailand are neither new strains nor mutations, according to Emerging Infectious Diseases Bureau director and Disease Control Department spokesman Dr Rungruang Kitpati.

The HFMD strains which are currently contagious in Thailand is Enterovirus 71, Coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16), and Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6). The latter is spreading most in Thailand and considered normal. CVA6 is not fatal, but the viruses are airborne and change every year, he noted.

The outbreak is usually found in children under age 12, particularly those under age five, he said, explaining that finding the disease among them is also normal.

In Thailand, the number of patients has reached almost 14,000, and it is considered the peak contagious period. The spread is expected to continue for up to six weeks, according to Dr Rungruang, who asked the public not to panic.

Meanwhile, he praised schools for closing temporarily for cleaning and the prevention of further outbreaks. Those schools having some patients, but which had previously closed for cleaning, were asked to follow instructions of Public Health Ministry and local authorities.

One measure the ministry is doing with Education Ministry is to have teachers manually inspect their students for fever or wounds on their cheeks.

Parents are advised as well to monitor their children’s health and sanitation. Those feeling nauseated, having high fever for more than three days, or having transparent bumps on skin should see doctors immediately.