The Department of Health has recorded a steep rise in the incidence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) among children nationwide, with more than 600 cases reported in the last seven months.
In a surveillance report, the DOH said 612 suspected HFMD cases were recorded from Jan. 1 to July 4 this year, 175.7 per cent higher than the 222 cases reported in the same period last year.
The Cagayan Valley registered the biggest number of cases at 23.7 per cent of cases, followed by Calabarzon, 20.1 per cent; northern Mindanao, 15.5 per cent; Metro Manila, 9.6 per cent, and Mimaropa, 5.4 per cent.
Sixty per cent of the cases involved males with more than half of the cases hitting the 1- to 4-year-old age group. No deaths were reported, according to the health department.
HFMD is a common infectious disease caused by a group of enteroviruses, including Coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) and Enterovirus 71 (EV71). The DOH said that infection by the latter was of "particular concern" since it could cause severe disease in children, sometimes resulting in death.
HFMD affects mainly children and is commonly spread through direct contact with secretions, such as saliva, from infected people. Symptoms include fever that may last 24 to 48 hours, painful mouth sores and rashes and blisters on the hands, feet and buttocks.
The DOH said there was no particular treatment for HFMD and medications given were usually for the relief of symptoms, such as fever and sore throat.
Warning that there was no specific way to prevent being infected with HFMD, the DOH advised the public to strictly observe good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing, to lessen the risk of catching the disease.