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Phuket on alert for Enterovirus 71



PHUKET: Phuket is one of several provinces on alert for Enterovirus 71, which has killed three children in Thailand so far this year, confirmed the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

Enterovirus 71 can cause outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in children. Additionally, it has the potential to cause severe neurological diseases.

Other provinces flagged as at risk are: Samut Prakarn, Ang Thong, Sing Buri, Chanthaburi, Nakorn Pathom, Samut Songkhram, Amnat Charoen, Payao, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Yala and Phang Nga.

“HFMD can be caused by many types of viruses. However, Enterovirus 71 has the severest complications,” said Phuket Provincial Health Office Deputy Chief Krit Sakulpat.

“The situation is nothing to be overly concerned about in Phuket, at least for the moment. None of the cases of HFMD on the island have been caused by Enterovirus 71, so the children have quickly recovered.”

Those most at risk are children under the age of five.

“HFMD is most often spread at kindergartens and schools. Teachers should wash their hands often and ensure that the students are doing the same,” Dr Krit said.

HFMD usually causes rashes on the palms of a person’s hands and soles of their feet, as well as blister-like sores in the mouth (herpangina).

Additionally, there is usually a fever that lasts several days. However, if HFMD is caused by the Enterovirus 71, the rashes can be found in many other areas on the body, such as the cheeks, tongue, gums, knees or ankles. Children will have high temperatures for more than 2 days.

“If anyone finds a child exhibiting these signs and symptoms, they should immediately bring the child to hospital for a checkup, as it can take a few days for the lab to check for Enterovirus 71,” Dr Krit explained.

There is no antiviral agent known to be effective in treating the Enterovirus 71 infection and for that reason preventive measures are the best course of action, Dr Krit said.

Hands should be washed regularly, while dirty surfaces and toys should be disinfected.

— Nattha Thepbamrung


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