Dr Lee Boon Chye

SIBU: The one-year-old toddler from Sarikei who was referred to the Sibu Hospital on Aug 30 has been confirmed suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) caused by Enterovirus 71 (EV71).

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye confirmed this yesterday in a short messaging service (SMS), when asked on the results of the viral test on the patient.

“The patient is still critically ill on ventilation. Confirmed HFMD due to EV71,” he told The Borneo Post.

He added that as of Sept 9, Sarawak recorded a total of 7,198 HFMD cases, while the overall figure nationwide stood at 59,447.

On July 28 this year, 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.

Dr Lee reminded the public to be vigilant, adding that measures to prevent infection should be continued.

“Maintain personal hygiene with frequent hand washing, keep children and surrounding clean,” he reiterated, adding that parents should consult a doctor early if their child has fever, mouth ulcers and rashes on the palms, soles or buttocks.

Meanwhile, 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.