HFMD cases have been at their highest since 2017 ― find out how to prevent your tot from catching it!

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Story update: The week of 29 July to 4 August saw 1,249 Hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) cases, the highest reported number in a week this year, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). According to MOH's weekly notice on infectious diseases, the week of 5 to 11 August saw a total of 1,106 cases, some 1.6 times more than in the same period last year.

Parents are strongly urged not to bring their children to school or any other crowded public places if their children are exhibiting symptoms (refer to the chart below for warning signs that junior may have HFMD).

Although HFMD is a highly contagious disease affecting people of all ages, kids below age 5 are more susceptible to it. If you send your little one to kindergarten or childcare, they have an even higher chance of contracting the disease from their peers.

While the current HFMD strain is fairly harmless, symptoms like sores and ulcers can cause your little angel discomfort and pain.

The incubation period of HFMD is three to five days (it can range from two days to two weeks). Other than medication to relieve the symptoms, there is no specific treatment or vaccine to treat HFMD. As it is a self-limiting disease, this means it usually goes away by itself after five to seven days. Meanwhile, do keep your tot in good health by observing simple practices.

MOH updates a list regularly to show the childcare centres and kindergartens with more than 10 cases of HFMD, or an attack rate of 13 per cent. If you suspect that your child has HFMD, bring him to the doctor for a check-up. Don’t bring him out in public, to prevent him from spreading the disease to others.

Do also inform your child’s childcare centre, kindergarten or school immediately, so that they can monitor the other children closely and take additional precautions. It’s also very important to disinfect and keep all his toys and belongings clean.

Infographic: Paulyn Ng

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How HFMD is treated
As the symptoms are usually mild, children will be able to recover within five to 10 days; it is sufficient to bring your child to the polyclinic or family doctor.

Any long-term effects?
HFMD is usually a mild disease and, hence, will not cause any long-term harm. Occasionally, the patient suffers serious complications such as brain, heart and lung infections from the EV 71 (enterovirus) virus, which can cause severe neurological complications in young children. Look out for:

1. Severe headache, giddiness and neck stiffness.
2. Disorientation, drowsiness and/or irritability.
3. Fits.
4. Breathlessness or turning blue.

If you start to notice symptoms such as persistent vomiting, dehydration, seizures or when your child complains of acute headache or giddiness, bring him to the emergency room immediately.

Main photo: iStock

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