|Children suffering from hand-foot-mouth disease are treated at central Da Nang City's General Hospital. The number of cases is increasing every year in Viet Nam bringing more calls for preventative efforts. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI (VNS)— Hand-Foot-Mouth (HFM) disease would spread widely in Viet Nam if the health ministry and communities did not step up preventive efforts.
The forecast was made by Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, at the opening of a two-day international workshop on HFM prevention held yesterday in Ha Noi.
"It's likely that the disease will reach its peak in April and September," the scientist said.
He explained that Viet Nam and China shared the same HFM situation, with cases increasing every year – although the number of fatalities had declined remarkably.
"We don't know much about HFM, especially its toxicity, how it spreads and the relationship between the disease and the lethal EV71 virus," he admitted.
"So close co-operation between Viet Nam and other countries in the region would be a vital weapon in fighting the disease," Hien pointed out.
According to the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department deputy director Nguyen Duc Khoa, HFM infects more people than any disease besides diarrhea. It follows rabies and dengue fever in the list of diseases with high fatalities.
Khoa added that southern provinces had a higher infection rate than northern provinces.
The fatality rate in the south was double the country's general rate in 2011 and 2012. All those victims had the EV71 virus.
Nearly 14,300 HFM cases, including four fatalities, have been reported in Viet Nam since the beginning of this year.
The first HFM case was reported in HCM City in 2003. A rapid increase followed with the number of infections surging from 113,000 with 170 deaths in 2011 to 157,000 with 45 deaths last year.
The conference drew participants from China, Singapore and Malaysia who sought to share experience in preventing and controlling the disease.
The participants will discuss epidemiology, diagnosing, case management, prevention and control, immunology and vaccines today. — VNS