While hand, foot and mouth disease is common in children all over the world, it seems to be particularly prevalent and dangerous in Asia. In Thailand currently, we have more than 12,500 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease that have been reported nationwide since the beginning of the year. The spread of the disease has become so bad in some areas of Bangkok, 18 schools have had to be temporarily closed until children recover and the disease stops spreading.
Luckily, though, so far in Thailand deaths from the disease are quite rare. Not so, unfortunately, in many other areas of Asia where deaths of hundreds of children from hand, foot and mouth disease have occurred in China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
In Thailand, however, only one child is reported to be seriously ill with the disease so far. Others are moderately ill and are simply being told to stay home from school and rest until the disease has run its course, so as not to infect other children. There isn’t currently a treatment for the disease.
Symptoms of the disease include a rash around the mouth, on the hands and feet, and sometimes on the buttocks. Some children will also have a fever, headache, may vomit, have ear ache and be generally tired.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry is running a new campaign to educate Thai parents about how hand, foot and mouth disease spreads and what to do if their child contracts it. They are also telling schools and nurseries to be sure students are frequently washing their hands and that food is served as soon as it is ready, rather than sitting around cooling as often happens in Thai schools.