Hand-foot-and-mouth disease in 30 Iloilo towns

By John Noel E. Herrera

Cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease have already affected 30 towns in Iloilo province, according to the Iloilo Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU).

PESU data indicated that Santa Barbara town logged the most cases with 90, followed by Barotac Viejo with 48; Alimodian with 43; Badiangan with 42; towns of Calinog and Leon with 39 cases; Pototan with 37; San Dionisio with 33; Bingawan with 32, and Pavia with 31 cases.

Other towns with HFMD cases include Tigbauan (28), Barotac Nuevo (25), Banate (24), Lemery (22), Passi City (16), Oton (15), Lambunao (14), San Rafael (12), San Miguel (12), Tubungan (12), Zarraga (11), Dumangas (10), Cabatuan (10), Igbaras (9), Anilao (6), Janiuay (5), Batad (5), New Lucena (2), and Duenas and Maasin with one case each.

The Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) also expressed worry as the province already recorded 674 HFMD cases in January 2023, which is 1,772 percent higher compared to the 36 reported cases in the same period last year.

IPHO head Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quinon noted that there has been a sudden spike in HFMD cases this year, as most students have already returned to face-to-face classes, which made them more prone to contracting the infectious disease.

Colmenares-Quinon also attributed the increase in cases to the change in the health-seeking behavior of the public, as most parents now do not hesitate to seek help from physicians or in their rural health units (RHU) when their kids have HFMD symptoms.

The IPHO chief also emphasized the importance of good hygiene and advised parents to make sure that their children observe it, such as frequent hand washing to lessen the risk of catching the disease.

“Ini malikawan kung permi kita naga-handwashing, naga-alcohol or practice of hand hygiene. Dapat permi naton gina disinfect ang mga permi ginatandog nga surfaces like doorknobs, toys, kag iban pa nga gina-touch frequently,” she said.

Colmenares-Quinon also stressed that HFMD is contagious, especially when there is contact with lesions and blisters. She emphasized that those infected by the disease should have their own separate utensils, toys, and other personal items to use.

She also earlier explained that HFMD might also cause miscarriage, or stillbirth, for pregnant women if they were infected.

“Dako ang risgo nga ma-abortion or ma-miscarriage, ukon ang ila bata ma stillbirth, kapin pa kung ang nanay naga-busong siya kag na-infect siya sang HFMD sang lapit na lang manug-bata, ti maapektuhan ang bata, basi magka-severe disease ang bata,” Colmenares-Quinon stressed.

The IPHO also said that infected individuals need to avoid face-to-face activities like attending school and going out of the community, until such time that the visible lesions are healed to avoid infecting other people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines HFMD as a common viral illness that mostly affects infants and children below five years old. It is also usually a mild disease, and nearly all patients recover in seven to 10 days without medical treatment.

It also commonly spreads through droplets or direct contact with nasal discharges, saliva, feces, and fluid from the rashes of an infected person, while HFMD symptoms include fever that may last 24 to 48 hours, painful mouth sores, blisters on the hands and feet, sore throat, and loss of appetite.