SIBU: A one-year-old toddler from Sarikei suspected to be suffering from Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease (HFMD), who was referred to Sibu Hospital Thursday is in critical condition.
In confirming this yesterday, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said: “Samples have been sent for viral testing – awaiting result.”
Dr Lee cautioned that even though the number of HFMD cases has dropped in the past three weeks, the public still need to be vigilant, especially since schools have reopened.
“Measures to prevent infection should continue – maintain personal hygiene with frequent hand washing, keep children and surrounding clean,” Dr Lee said when contacted yesterday.
On July 28, a toddler from Kampung Pangtray in Daro, Mukah died at Sibu Hospital due to Enterovirus 71 (EV71) – one of the major causative agents of HFMD. The EV71 virus was implicated as the major causative agent in the outbreak of acute viral infection in Sarawak which resulted in 31 deaths among children aged from five months to six years in mid-1997.
During that outbreak, most of the infected children died within hours of admission to hospital due to acute congestive heart failure and cardiovascular collapse which was suggestive of acute viral myocarditis.
According to reports, the occurrence of the fatal infections in the midst of simultaneous outbreaks of EV71-associated HFMD raised the possibility that EV71 was associated with the deaths.
Large outbreaks with fatalities had occurred in three-year cycles in Sarawak – in 2003, 2006 and 2009.