Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common infectious disease that occurs most often in children, but can affect adolescents and occasionally adults. In most cases, the disease is mild and self limiting, but more severe clinical presentation with neurological symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis and polio-like paralysis may occur.
HFMD epidemics have been a serious public health concern in China since 2007. A laboratory and epidemiology surveillance system for HFMD was established in 2008. Virological data from laboratory networks revealed that EV71 infections were the main reason for severe and fatal cases, although both EV71 and Coxsackievirus A16 were the major pathogens during widespread outbreaks in 2008 and 2009.
In May 2008, the Ministry of Health introduced HFMD into its notifiable category C diseases group, which is based on the Law of Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control.