Cambodia starts education campaign, enhanced surveillance for hand, foot and mouth disease

In response to the outbreak of a severe form of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has instructed all public health facilities to report mild and severe cases of HFMD among children.

Mild cases present with fever and blisters on the hands, feet and/or mouth. Such cases may be managed at home or at health centers or health posts. Most of these cases recover within 7-10 days. However, some children develop a severe disease characterized by fever with neurologic symptoms (such as vomiting, somnolence, convulsions or spasms) or respiratory symptoms (fast breathing or difficulty in breathing). These children have to be referred to hospitals for treatment.

"Children with any of the following signs: very high fever, vomiting, convulsions, spasms or difficulty breathing must be immediately brought to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment," Minister of Health H. E. Mam Bunheng advised parents.

Frequent washing of hands with soap and water, especially after touching any blisters or sores, before preparing food and eating, before feeding young infants, after using toilets and after cleaning children is encouraged.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, is developing information and educational materials to inform the general public about the disease.

The investigation into the recently reported illnesses and deaths in Cambodia concluded that a severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71 (EV-71) was the cause in majority of the cases reported to the Ministry of Health.

Based on the investigation, a total of 78 cases were identified. These included the initial 62 cases reported by the Kantha Bopha hospital, and cases reported from other hospitals. Of these, the investigation focused on 61 cases that fitted the criteria used (the case definition).

The latest follow-up on these 61 cases indicate that 56 died and three recovered.

During the past week, 533 HFMD cases have been reported to the MOH from 17 of the 24 provinces and there have been nine confirmed cases of severe EV71 infection. Of the nine cases, three died, one recovered, five are still sick.

More information on HFMD is available at the CDC, MOH website: www.cdcmoh.gov.kh. The public may also call the MOH Hotline numbers: 115 (free call), 012 488981 or 089 669567.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Health
Dr. Sok Touch: +855 12 856 848
Dr. Ly Sovann: +855 12 825 424

World Health Organization
Dr Pieter Van Maaren: +855 23 216 610
Dr Nima Asgari: +855 23 216 610

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