What parents should know about the recent spike in HFMD cases

A child getting her mouth checked.

Recent increase in HFMD

There's been a recent spike in Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases in Singapore, with almost 1,000 new cases reported since March 2018, a Straits Times report said.

As a comparison, there have been 12,309 HFMD cases reported between Jan 1 and Apr 21, 2018, compared to 11,016 cases during the same time in 2017, the report added.

Seasonal HFMD peak

"The number of HFMD cases in recent weeks is consistent with seasonal incidence which typically peaks around March to May," a spokesman from the Ministry of Health told ST.

Infectious diseases specialist Leong Hoe Nam explained to ST: "There are more cases, but it's just seasonal."

"It is the usual wax and wane. Herd immunity falls, and new cases come up again," added Dr Leong, who practises at Rophi Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

These centres have active clusters

Two childcare centres and two kindergartens have active HFMD clusters, according to MOH's update on April 27, ST's report said:

  • Mindchamps Preschool at Kallang Leisure Park
  • My First Skool at Eastpoint Mall
  • St James Church Kindergarten
  • Bedok Methodist Church Kindergarten

Mindchamps said that as of the evening of Apr 27, all its children had recovered and a MOH inspector had cleared the centre.

What is a HFMD cluster?

According to ST's report, a childcare centre or kindergarten is considered a cluster when it has more than 10 HFMD cases or an "attack rate" higher than 13 per cent, and a transmission period of more than 16 days.

The attack rate is to the proportion of children enrolled who have caught the disease.

Also read: Adults have 1-5% risk of getting infected with HFMD 

How HFMD spreads

You can contract HFMD through direct contact with the nasal discharge, saliva, faeces and fluids from the rash of an infected person, ST's report said.

The incubation period is three to five days and kids below five years of age face the biggest risk.

Look out for these symptoms

Symptoms of HFMD include fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers and rashes or small blisters on the palms of the hands, soles and buttocks.

If your kid has HFMD, alert their school or childcare centre immediately, said ST. This way, the school can look out for potential symptoms in other children and take additional precautions.

Also read: 5 things to know about HFMD

This article was first published in Young Parents