Strain of HFMD killed toddler: Doctors

THAILAND - As hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) continues to alarm parents around Thailand, virology experts yesterday concluded the 2-year-eight-month-old girl who died last week at Bangkok's Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital succumbed to Enterovirus 71, which can cause HFMD. Two other children who died of illnesses recently - a 16-year-old boy in Sa Kaew and a 3-year-old girl in Lop Buri - were found not to have had HFMD.

Dr Prasert Thongcharoen told a media conference yesterday the 2-year-old girl, who had chronic asthma, developed a fever and respiratory difficulties on July 12, but had no blisters in her mouth.

She later developed high blood pressure, respiratory failure, a high amount of white blood cells, and faster-than-normal heart rate - symptoms in line with the enzyme test result for myocarditis. As a result, doctors stated she had died from respiratory failure, he explained.

Samples from the girl's faeces and spine fluid didn't show HFMD, but a B5 type of Enterovirus 71 was identified in her throat, he said. Although her symptoms weren't typical for HFMD, some - such as myocarditis - did match the disease, and the expert team concluded the girl died from severe HFMD.

Prasert emphasised there was no evidence linking particular HFMD strains to severe diseases.

He said the B5 type of Enterovi-rus 71 wasn't normally dangerous but the girl had severe symptoms because of other factors (such as her pre-existing illness and the late admission for treatment). He said the team found doctors had treated the girl properly and consulted experts frequently.

Prasert also said that the other two deaths did not involve HFMD; the 16-year-old boy in Sa Kaew died from encephalitis (also caused by Enterovirus 71) while the 3-year-old girl in Lop Buri had a heart condition and was admitted with high fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath, but the lab test couldn't find Enterovirus 71 virus.

Department of Medical Sciences chief Dr Boonchai Somboonsuk reported at least 30-40 HFMD samples were being submitted for lab tests each day. Next week, the department will train 14 centres in polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a DNA amplification, so they will have more manpower to detect |diseases better and faster |(within 2-3 hours), he said.

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