Hand, foot and mouth disease toll rises to 11 in Vietnam metro

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Two more children died from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) this week in Ho Chi Minh, bringing this year's HFMD death toll in the city to 11, the Health Department announced Tuesday.

Last year, the disease took only one life in the city.

All HFMD fatalities are children below five years old, according to the department.

Doctor Le Truong Giang, the department's deputy director, said an average 300 HFMD cases were admitted to hospital each week since early May, a 300 percent increase from the same period last year.

"On Monday alone, the HCMC Children's Hospitals 1 and 2 received a combined 104 children, 15 of whom have serious complications," he said.

Last week, health authorities concluded that a more virulent subtype of the Enterovirus 71 virus, which causes the disease, is responsible for the recent outbreak in HCMC.

Giang blamed the EV71 B2 subtype and a lack of awareness from the children's parents for the rising number of infected patients and death toll.

"Most children contracted the virus at home, but our inspection showed many parents did not comply with doctors' instructions to make up the chemical mixture to sterilize the children's surrounding environment," he said.

The Health Department has released a warning to parents, whose kids are below 5, to constantly wash the floor, toys, and the children's hands.

HFMD is caused by intestinal viruses in the Picornaviridae family. The most common strains causing HFMD are Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus 71 (EV-71).

HFMD usually affects infants and children, and is quite common. It is moderately contagious and is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or feces of an infected person.

It commonly occurs in nursery schools or kindergartens, usually during the summer and autumn months. The usual incubation period is 37 days.

Typical symptoms of the disease include fever and sore throat accompanied by a rash which may appear on the hands, feet, mouth, tongue, and inside of the cheeks.

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