Saturday, August 11, 2007
Foot and mouth disease affects children in Kerala
After chikungunya, dengue and rat fever, cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) have been reported among children in the Kerala.
Though caused by a virus belonging to the same picornaviridae family, doctors say it should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease affecting sheep, cattle and swine.
Hfmd usually affects children. It is highly contagious and is spread through direct contact with the mucus or feces of an infected person, occurring in small epidemics in nursery schools or kindergartens.
The symptoms include fever, rash in the mouth, sores with blisters on palms of hands and soles of feet, mouth ulcers and sores or blisters present on the buttocks of small children and infants.
The Hfmd outbreaks were reported in Singapore and Maldives in April and May this year. Most children recover fully within a week and serious complications rarely occur.
Experts point out that the outbreak of vector-borne diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever and viral fever may have triggered the spread of Hfmd.
According to the official figures, 860,000 cases of fever were reported in Kerala last month alone and hundreds of fresh cases are being reported every day since the onset of monsoon.
Several city hospitals reported cases of Hfmd this week and doctors say the number is swelling.
Like other virus infections, the illness often starts with a general feeling of being unwell for a day or so, sometimes with a high fever.
The average incubation period of the foot and mouth virus varies but is generally around 3-8 days.
The disease is characterised by high fever that declines rapidly after two or three days; blisters inside the mouth that lead to excessive secretion of stringy or foamy saliva and to drooling; and blisters on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.
Adult animals may suffer weight loss and in cows, milk production can decline significantly.
Source: Gulf Times