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15-fold increase from 2021 in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease

The majority of cases occurred in kindergartens, nurseries or pre-schools, followed by private homes and childcare centres.

3 minute read
A child rides his bicycle at the Perdana Botanical Garden in Kuala Lumpur.
A child rides his bicycle at the Perdana Botanical Garden in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia had recorded a 15-fold increase in number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases as of May 14, with 31,661 compared to only 2,121 in the same period last year.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 7,526 cases were recorded during epidemiological week (ME) 19/2022 alone, an increase of 349% compared to the previous ME where only 1,676 cases were reported nationwide.

“Selangor had the largest number of HFMD cases with 8,864 cases or 28% of total cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with 4,421 cases (14%), Sabah with 2,650 cases (8%), Perak with 2,638 cases (8%) and Kelantan with 2,493 cases (7.9%), while the other states reported fewer than 1,500 cases,” he said in a statement today.

A total of 889 outbreaks were reported in Malaysia, with Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya recording the most at 309 (35%), followed by Selangor (111, 12%) and Perak (105, 12%).

“The majority of cases occurred in kindergartens, nurseries or pre-schools, with 575 outbreaks or 65% of the total cases, followed by private homes with 305 outbreaks (34%) and childcare centres with 27 outbreaks (3%),” Noor Hisham said.

He said most of the HFMD cases occurred among children aged six and below (29,781 cases or 94%), followed by children aged seven to 12 (1,473 cases).

Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated during the incubation period of HFMD.

Noor Hisham warned that HFMD is an infectious disease that needs to be notified under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), adding that the public can report the occurrence of HFMD cases to the nearest district health office.

He said HFMD is closely related to personal hygiene and environmental practices, with the infection rate among children under 10 at almost 100%, especially in premises where children gather such as in kindergartens, nurseries or schools.

He said parents and guardians of children with symptoms of infection are advised not to take them to public places. Instead, they should bring children for treatment and clean their toys and the floors, especially in the toilet.

As a proactive measure to curb the spread of infectious diseases, he said the health ministry, through the MySejahtera application, had activated an infectious disease detection feature to detect cases other than Covid-19 such as rabies, dengue and measles.

“This feature can help the public check the status of red dots and cases of infectious diseases reported in an area, and help them plan and carry out daily activities carefully,” he said.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,074 dengue cases were recorded in ME 19, an increase of 365 cases or 51.5% from the number of cases reported in the previous ME (709).

“This brings the cumulative number of dengue cases reported so far to 14,725, compared with 10,139 cases reported in the same period last year, an increase of 4,586 cases or 45.2%,” he said.

Terengganu recorded the highest increase in percentage of dengue cases with 164.7%, followed by Labuan (150%), Kedah (137.8%), Negeri Sembilan (71.4%), Selangor (42.6%), Sabah (40.8%), Kelantan (27.1%), Perak (26.4%), Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (14.3%), Sarawak (13.7%) and Penang (3.4%).

Perlis, Melaka, Johor and Pahang recorded a drop in percentage of cases, while the cumulative number of deaths recorded due to dengue in ME 19 currently stands at nine.