Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has claimed seven lives in the southern province of Dong Nai and three in the central province of Quang Ngai as of Tuesday.
The outbreak left kindergartens in Quang Ngai deserted as most parents worried their kids may catch the deadly virus.
On Tuesday, Nha Trang Pasteur Institute, which has been overseeing the disease in Quang Ngai, announced that Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is the major causative agent for the recent HFMD outbreak in the central province, which has left 445 children sick over the past month.
Doctor Nguyen Tan Phu of Quang Ngai General Hospital said it was the first time HFMD hit the province, so inexperienced district hospitals transferred the patients to provincial hospitals which caused an overload.
Official statistics about the total number of HFMD fatalities in the country have not been released, but so far a combined 22 fatalities have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai and Quang Ngai. According to the latest statistics from the HCMC Health Department, city-based hospitals have reported more than 3,000 HFMD cases, including 12 fatalities.
In Dong Nai Province, more than 210 HFMD cases have been reported this year. The disease also hit the Mekong Delta provinces and southern provinces that neighbor Ho Chi Minh City such as Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
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.