More infections of hand, foot and mouth in Vietnam have been caused by EV-71, the most common and dangerous strain of Enterovirus, which prompts the disease, a health official said.
Doctor Nguyen Tran Hien, head of Vietnam National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said the increasing influence of the strain "is the most worrying factor about HFMD infections in Vietnam at the present," according to a report Friday by news website Dan Tri.
Vietnam has reported 27 HFMD deaths out of around 50,000 infections so far this year, and all the fatalities were caused by the Enterovirus 71, according to latest statistics from the Health Ministry.
The statistics also showed EV-71 has caused around 80 percent of the infections this year.
Last year, many but not all of 169 deaths were caused by the virus strain and only 20 percent of the 110,000 infections came from it. Most of the cases were instead caused by the Coxsackie strain, Hai told the media on the sidelines of a Nha Trang conference.
He said EV-71 is the most toxic among intestinal viruses, "capable of causing brain, neurological and respiration complications that lead to death."
Hai said health agencies are working to find answers for the remarkable changes in the disease, which begins with mouth sores and blisters on hands and feet.
They will also try to explain the sudden increase of infections in the north, which last year reported fewer cases than the south, but at the present is accounting for half of the infections nationwide with around 22,000 patients.
Hai said there's a theory that the molecular structure of EV-71 in the north is different of that in the south of Vietnam.
He said studies by the institute found the genetic structure of the virus strain has changed since 2008.
There's no vaccine or specific medication for the disease and doctors say that the best defense against it is good hygeine.
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