Hand, foot, mouth disease forces Vietnam kindergartens to close

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Hand, foot and mouth disease has reared its head again in the southern province of Soc Trang, keeping hundreds of children away from school after a kindergarten shut down.

Nguyen Thi Be Hai, the principal of Cu Lao Dung Kindergarten in Cu Lao Dung District, told news website VnExpress on Thursday that four children at her school were infected and had typical symptoms like blisters on hands and feet and mouth sores.

The school has closed until March 10 to avoid further spread of the disease.

But the district general hospital said things have been bad since the beginning of March and it is treating 42 infected children, most of them preschoolers.

Ho Chi Minh City health authorities said there had been 883 cases this year as of March 5, 18 more than last.

Last year more than 110,000 children contracted the disease nationwide, 41 fatally.

The death toll had been 169 in 2011 out of roughly the same number of infections.

There's no vaccination yet for the disease, which tends to peak in April-May, and patients are put on respirators and provided dialysis.

It infects mostly children under five, and many of the fatalities are caused by EV71, the most virulent strain of the entovirus that causes the disease and also the most common one in Vietnam.

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