| Azlan Othman |
SINCE the beginning of the year, Brunei Darussalam has experienced a rise in Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), with 193 cases having been reported, according to a Ministry of Health statement, yesterday.
January saw 82 cases detected and to date, 74 per cent of all patients are children aged five years old and below. Many of these cases required outpatient treatment only.
HFMD is an infection frequently experienced by children and symptoms include fever, lack of appetite, unhealthy, skin rashes, sore throat, wounds, mouth sores and ulcers on the tongue, jaw and the inner cheek.
The infection is caused by several viruses that spreads between people through physical contact as well as touching surfaces contaminated with the viruses.
Infants are at a high risk of contracting this disease, which can lead to serious complications such as encephalitis and dehydration.
The ministry has reminded the public to take precautionary and preventive measures to reduce contracting HFMD such as washing hands after visiting the toilet, before taking or serving meals, after changing diapers and after performing household chores.
People should also maintain their residential surroundings in a clean state, prevent children suffering from HFMD playing with other children and not to visit public places such as shopping complexes, playgrounds, swimming pools and so on. Parents should also disinfect toys or other surfaces that their children regularly come in contact with.
The ministry also advised parents and guardians to bring their children to nearby health centres and hospitals should they develop symptoms.
To prevent and control the spread of HFMD, the ministry has advised the temporary closure of several classes at affected schools, in accordance with public health guidelines, while it continues to monitor the situation.