A doctor examines a child with hand, foot and mouth disease in HCM City’s Children Hospital No 1 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Ministry of Health has asked people across the country to take protective measures against hand, foot, and mouth disease after data from the ministry’s General Department of Preventive Medicine showed that over 2,100 people had contracted the disease in 57 localities this year.

Nonetheless, the total number of cases is still 38.6 percent lower than in the same period last year. Most of the cases were recorded in the south, the department said. In HCM City, more than 30 people fell ill during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.

In Hanoi, Nguyen Thien Hai, deputy head of the Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics’ Infectious Diseases Department, told the Voice of Vietnam (VoV) online newspaper that the hospital was treating several children with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

The head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, Tran Dac Phu, said the disease was easily spread, especially in wet weather, and parents and teachers should keep children away from those who have contracted it to prevent it spreading in schools.

The disease typically peaks between March and May, Phu said.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than five. However, it can sometimes occur in older children and adults. There is no vaccine to protect against the virus.

The ministry issued recommendations on how to prevent children from getting the disease: Wash children’s hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet; give children cooked food and boiled water; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys; don’t let children have contact with people suspected of having or infected with the disease; collect and dump patients’ waste in sanitary latrine; take your children to the nearest health clinic if symptoms occur.

In response to the recommendations, schools, especially primary schools in HCM City and Hanoi, sprayed Chloramine B to disinfect classrooms, kitchens and toys, as well as washing hands with soap and water.

Nguyen Hoa Binh, 32, of Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district, said last year, her two-year-old daughter got the disease and she had to take her daughter to hospital for treatment.

This year, after hearing warnings from the ministry about the disease, Binh washed her daughter’s hands with soap and water and gave her salt-water mouth rinse several times every day, she said.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group), including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.

The disease usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a sense of malaise. One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth. A skin rash with red spots, and sometimes with blisters may also develop over one or two days on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.

According to medical experts, parents should take their children home once symptoms occur and treat children’s waste by using Chloramine B for disinfection. They should wear masks and gloves to avoid contact with the waste, doctors said.

If children show symptoms such as high fever, vomiting or convulsions, parents should quickly take them to hospital for treatment to avoid dangerous complications. -VNA