Virus Outbreak Kills 81 Children

August 20, 2011 by staff 

Virus Outbreak Kills 81 ChildrenVirus Outbreak Kills 81 Children, Prime Minister of Vietnam has put the country on alert as an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease continues to rise, killing 81 children and sickening more than 32,000 people around the country this year, officials said Friday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for intensified efforts to prevent and control the transmission of common childhood illness. It has spread throughout the country, but is being fought over in the south, where they were nearly 80 percent of reported cases. About 65 percent of the deaths occurred in children under 3 years.

“Pie in the hand and foot and mouth disease, an infectious disease dangerous to children under 5 years, is spreading rapidly, creating great danger to the health and lives of young children,” Dung said in a statement that appeared on the government Web site Friday.

Outbreak this year is up sharply from previous years. Since 2008, around 10,000 to 15,000 cases were reported per year, with about 20 to 30 children die annually.

The disease Hand, foot and mouth spread by sneezing, coughing and contact with fluid from the infected blisters or faeces. An enterovirus group in the same family as polio causes it. There is no vaccine or specific treatment, but the disease is usually mild and most children recover quickly without problems.

The virus gets its name because the telltale symptoms, including mouth ulcers, rash and blisters on the hands and feet. Many of the infected children do not get sick at all, but still capable of infecting others.

A more serious strain known as enterovirus 71 or EV-71 has been identified in about one third of the cases sampled in Vietnam, said Dr. Graham Harrison, the World Health Organization representative acting country of Vietnam. EV-71 can lead to paralysis, brain swelling and death.

Harrison called for greater awareness in hospitals and clinics outside the cities in the detection and treatment of new cases. Early symptoms include fever, sore throat, the rash and blisters that come later in most but not all patients.

He said he has been a slight recent decline in the number of cases, but it is too early to know for sure if the outbreak is declining. State media have reported about 2,000 new cases are still being reported each week.

“It started to recover in May or June as it had in previous years,” said Harrison. “Whether going down and back up or is just a kind of peak for the year and then will go down, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Truong Huu Khanh Doctor, director of the department of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital main Ho Chi Minh City, said the number of patients has decreased compared to last month. He added that most of the children admitted are coming from the provinces south of the city.

WHO is helping with the outbreak, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Companies demand improved hygiene, like washing hands frequently and regularly clean floors, tables and counters with disinfectant.

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