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HFMD OUTBREAK

Disease claims a second child's life

Cambodian boy, 2, dies in Rayong; public hygiene campaigns ordered

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is believed to have claimed its second life in Thailand - a young Cambodian boy living in Rayong.

Rayong Public Health chief Kris Pansuk yesterday identified the victim only as Kimha, aged 2 and a half.

"We suspect that he caught HFMD, mainly because of his symptoms - blisters, high fever and vomiting," Kris said.

The boy developed symptoms on July 21. His parents took him to a clinic twice, the first occasion a few days after he became ill.

"Because his condition did not improve, he was sent to the Klaeng Hospital on Wednesday. Just two hours after he was admitted, he succumbed," Kris said.

He said he had informed Rayong Governor Seni Jitkasen of the death. Major public hygiene operations will take place in Rayong today.

In a related development, Disease Control Department director-general Dr Pornthep Siriwanarangsun yesterday visited the mother of a young girl whose death from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) last week was the first in Thailand this year.

Earlier this week, experts confirmed the girl died of HFMD, which can spread quickly among young children.

HFMD has already infected at least 16,860 people this year.

"The girl's parents understand the news coverage of their child's death and related information. They are hurt, though, by the fact that some news reports suggest that they brought their daughter to doctors rather too late," Pornthep said.

According to the parents, their daughter developed symptoms on July 15 or 16, and she was immediately rushed to a hospital.

Methaya Chumchuen, the girl's mother, also denied reports that her family sought financial assistance from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

"It's totally groundless," she said.

She explained that Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri gave her family some cash for merit making.

Witthaya dispatched Pornthep to Methaya's house, which is located in Bangkok.

In the wake of the spread of HFMD, Witthaya called for hygiene campaigns to be implemented beyond schools and nurseries.

"I have ordered that public buses, subway cars, Skytrain carriages, taxis and train stations be cleaned too," he said.

He added that all village public-health volunteers had been instructed to guide people in how to guard against HFMD and how to rapidly detect infections.

Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said most HFMD patients could be treated as outpatients and would recover within 10 days.

He warned parents against taking their children on long-haul trips, for example, for the purpose of letting them recuperate in their home provinces.

"Travelling can suppress a patient's immune system. It may also spread the disease," Surawit said.

Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health director Dr Siraporn Sawasdivorn expected the HMFD outbreak to die down next month.

According to the head of the institute's infectious-disease department, more cases of dengue fever have been detected recently than of HFMD.

"The [diseases'] symptoms, such as high fever and vomiting, may be quite similar. But HFMD patients will likely refuse to eat too," Dr Siripen Kalayanarooj said.

The Disease Control Department said dengue fever had already hit 25,351 people and killed 27 of them this year.

Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration deputy secretary-general Srinuan Kornkotchakorn told people not to believe in widespread rumours that caffeine-mixed drinks would help protect them against the HFMD.

"They are beverages. They are not medicines," Srinuan said.


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