24 September 2010


The numbers of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases are still high in Singapore. Actually HFMD cases are seen all year round in Singapore. Every now and then, however, there are outbreaks especially in places like childcare centres, kindergartens and primary schools.

According to the latest MOH figures, there are 732 reported cases of HFMD for the week 37, 12-18 Sept 2010 (compared to 157 in 2009).

HFMD is highly contagious. It is usually spread by direct contact from person to person via body fluids like saliva and nasal discharge, fecal material and fluid from the rash.

The diagnosis of HFMD is usually based on clinical symptoms, which include:
  • low-grade fever
  • oral ulcers
  • rashes in palms, soles or buttocks
  • loss of appetite and lethargy
  • some may also have mild gastric flu or cough/cold symptoms

*The pictures below are taken from the Health Promotion Board website.*

The child with HFMD is usually not very sick but he should stay 'isolated' at home for 5-7 days even if the symptoms are mild. Very rarely, HFMD can develop complications especially with the EV71 virus. Seek immediate medical attention if the child is vomiting excessively, dehydrated, extremely tired or unusually irritated.

Management of HFMD is usually symptomatic. This includes 'tender loving care' from care-takers. Doctors usually prescribe:

  • topical oral medication for the painful ulcers
  • fever/pain medications
  • anti-inflammation medications to help with recovery
  • and rarely antiviral medications for the very sick or immune-suppressed patients
  • medical leave for 5-7 days
Hygiene practices are of paramount importance for the infected child, care-takers and family members. Wash hands before meals and after visiting toilets. Do not share eating utensils and toys. Also remember to look out for symptoms among the family members including adults.

Lastly, send the child back to childcare or school only when there are no more:

  • fever
  • oral ulcers
  • rashes.
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