Hand, foot and mouth disease: What you need to know
5 things to know about HFMD
Singapore faces what may soon be a record number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreaks.
So far, 18,241 cases of HFMD have been reported this year - the highest number of HFMD cases recorded in the first half of any year since 2012.
This figure is also over 10,000 cases more than the median over the past five years.
Here are five things you need to know:
1 WHO DOES IT AFFECT?
HFMD is most common among babies and children under the age of five. However, it is possible for older children and adults to contract HFMD as well. The illness tends to be more severe in adults.
People who have had HFMD develop an immunity to the particular strain of HFMD that infected them. However, they can still contract other strains of the disease.
2 HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
HFMD is transmitted through contact with an infected person's nose and throat secretions (such as phlegm and mucus), blister fluid or faeces.
3 WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, fatigue and a decreased appetite. Ulcers and blisters will develop in the mouth and on the hands and feet a few days after infection.
4 WHAT ARE THE DANGERS?
HFMD can damage the brain, lungs or heart, though such complications are rare. In most cases, the greatest danger is dehydration, as ulcers make it painful to drink.
5 HOW IS IT TREATED?
There is no specific cure for HFMD and the body is equipped to fight the infection on its own. Those who are infected can take medicine for fever or pain and must keep themselves rested and hydrated.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Here are five things you can do:
- Avoid close physical contact, such as kissing and hugging, with those infected with HFMD.
- Do not share food or cutlery with others if you suspect one of you is infected.
- Keep your children at home if they are sick. The current outbreak is due in part to parents who send sick children to childcare centres, putting other children in danger.
- Wash your hands often. Use antibacterial soap, such as Betadine Skin Cleanser, which has been proven to kill 99.99 per cent of the leading strains of HFMD.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains to improve your immunity.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of cases of HFMD reported so far this year.