Kingdom remains on alert for disease outbreak
Cambodia's epidemic of hand, foot and mouth disease appears to have passed the critical point and is now under control, but Thailand remains on alert for further cases, Bureau of Epidemiology director Dr Pasakorn Akarasewi said yesterday.Meanwhile, the elementary level at Satit Chula demonstration school in central Bangkok has closed, starting from today. A press conference will be held at 1pm to announce details.
Dr Pasakorn said the outbreak in Cambodia should decline within 45 days and that the illness had been found in Thailand among primaryschool students. About 13,000 children in Thailand have been infected with HFMD, and the figure might reach 18,000 this year.
In Cambodia, more than 50 children have died from the disease, and according to the World Health Organisation, the cause of death has been a severe form of HFMD related to enterovirus 71, which is seen in many countries around the globe.
Rayong publichealth chief Dr Kris Palasut said HFMD in Thailand was of the Coxsackie strain, which is less severe.
In Thailand, the outbreak has occurred in nurseries and kindergartens, mainly in the Central and Northeast regions, with some in the North and South. Most patients are children of three to five years of age, but symptoms have also been found in some children older than five.
Pasakorn said the Epidemiology Bureau was speeding up measures for disease control and prevention. Clear guidance for setting up a provincial centre to monitor HFMD will be given to ensure further cooperation.
Mae Hong Song publichealth chief Dr Paisarn Tanyawinijkul said: "Parents should advise their children to wash their hands often. As for schools, if they find more than five students coming down with the HFMD in a class, the class must be suspended. If there are more than five such classes, the school should be closed down temporarily."
In Rayong, Kris said he had asked employers to cooperate on the temporary ban on Cambodian workers from visiting home.
"If they go to Cambodia and come back around this time, they may return with enterovirus 71," he said. "The employers have agreed to provide cooperation."
According to a Cambodian news website, China, which has also had HFMD outbreaks, has sent a medical team to Cambodia to help control the spread of the disease. Also, the daughter of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has donated US$300,000 (Bt9.5 million) to a children's hospital in Phnom Penh to help HFMD patients.