The number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in the country has increased at a worrying rate of 20-fold with 47,209 cases reported as of May 21 this year compared to only 2,237 cases in the corresponding period last year.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 15,548 cases were recorded nationwide in the 20th epidemiology week ending May 21, an increase of 106.6% from the 7,526 cases recorded in the previous week.
“The majority of the disease outbreaks occurred in nurseries, kindergartens and preschools with 711 outbreaks or 61% of the total cases, followed by private homes with 407 outbreaks or 35% and childcare centres with 42 outbreaks (3%),” he said in a statement today.
Selangor recorded the most number of HFMD cases (13,640 cases, 28.9%) followed by Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (6,206 cases, 13.1%), Perak (4,099 cases, 8.7%), Kelantan (3,726 cases, 7.9%) and Sabah (3,352 cases, 7.1%). Other states reported fewer than 2,500 cases.
Noor Hisham said a total of 1,168 outbreaks were reported in Malaysia so far with three states recording the highest number: Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya at 413 (35.4%), followed by Selangor at 143 (12.2%) and Perak at 130 (11.1%).
He said most of the HFMD cases occurred among children below the age of six which was evident in 43,736 cases (93%), followed by those aged seven to 12 (2,765 cases or 6%) and those over the age of 12 (696 cases or 1%).
Noor Hisham said that state health departments and district health offices nationwide had conducted engagement sessions with the agencies that supervise the management of nurseries, kindergartens and preschools since the 17th epidemiological week following the increase in HFMD cases in most states.
He said the engagement sessions emphasised gatekeeping screenings; correct hand-washing practices; the disinfection of children’s toys, house floors and toilets; proper management of disposable diapers; and the use of separate eating and drinking utensils.
Noor Hisham also reminded the public, especially parents with small children, not to take their children to places where there is a risk of infection, such as public playgrounds.
The public is also advised to report HFMD cases occurring at their children’s nurseries, kindergartens and schools to the nearest district health office for control action.