Highly contagious Hand, foot and mouth disease killing China's children

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lesions caused by the Hand, Foot and Mouth Virus on a 11 month old male.
Image: MidgleyDJ.

41,846 reported cases and 18 children's deaths have arisen from Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as reported by the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China for the first three months of 2009.

The majority of infected children are under the age of five years old. No vaccine is available for this disease.

The highly infectious disease has spread across 30 provinces and regions of China. Heze city alone has registered 1,734 cases, 440 of which came in last Friday. Five babies here died from HFMD just last week.

Henan province has registered seven dead children and 4,761 HFMD cases. Shandong has reported five children dead from HFMD and 3,280 cases to deal with.

HFMD can start from a variety of viruses of which Enterovirus 71 (EV-71) is the most common, followed by the Coxsackie A virus (Cox A16). There is an Incubation period from time of contact to appearance of symptoms between three to seven days.

HFMD warning signs begin with a small fever and then lesions and blisters around the mouth and rashes on the feet and hands.

Deng Haihua, Ministry of Health spokesperson, expects the disease to reach its height between May and July.

Yang Weizhong Deputy Director for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said researchers are increasing research efforts to find a vaccine for EV71.

Families are being instructed to embark on week-long disinfections with free medical supplies from local health authorities.