According to a report release by Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia in 24 May 2022, there are total of 47,209 cases of hand foot mouth disease that have been reported in Malaysia. About 93% (43,736) are children below 6 years old. There are also 2 cases with the hand foot mouth disease strain Enterovirus 71 (EV71) who were admitted to the ICU due to a serious complication – encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
Hand foot mouth disease (HFMD) is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus family. It usually affects infants and children but can affect adults too. The infection usually involves the hands, feet, mouth, and sometimes, even the genitals and buttocks. The symptoms include:
Children often get a fever and other flu-like symptoms 3 to 6 days after they catch the virus. Most children have mild symptoms for 7 to 10 days. There is no specific medical treatment for hand foot mouth disease. You can take steps to relieve symptoms and prevent dehydration while you or your child are sick.
The main places of transmission are kindergarten and preschool, which contributed to 61% of clusters in Malaysia. This is due to the virus being contagious, which means that infected people can pass the virus to others when:
- Making contact with respiratory droplets containing virus particles after a sick person coughs or sneezes
- Touching an infected person or making other close contact, like kissing, hugging, or sharing cups or eating utensils
- Touching an infected person’s faeces, such as changing diapers, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Touching objects and surfaces that have the virus on them, like doorknobs or toys, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
Therefore, hand hygiene and environment cleanness become very important in terms of stopping the spread of the hand foot mouth disease virus.
Parent should make sure their children know how to wash their hands properly or rub with alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Parents should also teach their children to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Before sending children to kindergarten, parents must make sure their kids do not have any symptoms of hand foot mouth disease, and kindergartens should also “ban” children who are sick from entering the area to avoid spreading the virus. Last but not least, kindergarten and day care centres should often sanitise the place to make sure it is clean and safe for the children who are gathering.
For daily measures, a healthy diet is the key to a strong immune system. This means making sure you are eating plenty of rainbow-coloured vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meat with legumes for protein, and healthy fats. A healthy diet can help ensure you’re getting sufficient amounts of the micronutrients that play a role in maintaining your immune system. Additionally, supplements such as 200mg of yeast beta glucan such as the nutrients contained in WPLUS by greens may help to support your immune system against colds. Last but not least, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep to give your immune system the best chance to fight off infections and illnesses
- Kenyataan Akhbar KPK 24 Mei 2022 – Situasi Semasa Kejadian Penyakit Tangan, Kaki dan Mulut (HFMD) di Malaysia (ME 20 2022) [Internet]. From the Desk of the Director-General of Health Malaysia. 2022 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://kpkesihatan.com/2022/05/24/kenyataan-akhbar-kpk-24-mei-2022-situasi-semasa-kejadian-penyakit-tangan-kaki-dan-mulut-hfmd-di-malaysia-me-20-2022/
- JIA XIAN L. HFMD cases up 15 fold so far this year, warns Health DG [Internet]. The Star. 2022 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/05/17/hfmd-cases-up-15-fold-so-far-this-year-warns-health-dg
- HAND FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE (HFMD) GUIDELINES [Internet]. Ministry of Health of Malaysia (Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia); 2022 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.my/moh/resources/auto%20download%20images/589d71f714d23.pdf
- Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/signs-symptoms.html
- Treat Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/treatment.html
- Causes & Transmission [Internet]. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/transmission.html
- Guerra A, Orille E, Waseem M. Hand Foot And Mouth Disease [Internet]. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2022 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431082/
- McCallum K. 6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System [Internet]. Houstonmethodist.org. 2021 [cited 25 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/mar/5-ways-to-boost-your-immune-system/
By Hew Xin Li (Greens Dietitian)
– Graduated from International Medical University (IMU) with BSc in Dietetics with Nutrition
– More than 4 years of diet therapist experiences