Enterovirus 71 (EV71), the most dangerous of the viruses that cause HFMD, has been responsible for 22 deaths attributed to the disease in Vietnam so far this year, health authorities reported.
A doctor examines a child with HFMD at the Pediatrics Hospital I, HCM City. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
The Health Preventive Department under the Health Ministry released the warning yesterday, May 16, when it reported on the latest developments of the disease.
The country had 2,800 new patients last week, taking the total number of people who have contracted the disease so far this year to more than 43,000, mostly young children, of whom 22 have died, the department said.
Compared to the previous week, the number of patients last week was reduced by 17 percent. In the Central Highlands area, the reduction rate was higher, at 24 percent.
However, the number of new patients every week during the first 4 months of this year still stood high, about 3,000, equal to that of the disease’s peak period last year, which ran from August to November, the department reported.
Unlike last year, this year HFMD has tended to affect more people in northern provinces, according to the Health Ministry.
Among the ten provinces and cities with the highest numbers of patients, 6 are in the north, including Hai Phong, Bac Kan, Yen Bai, Lao Cai, Hoa Binh and Vinh Phuc. Of these localities, Hai Phong City is leading the country in number of patients with about 200 new cases per week.
86 percent of the children with HFMD were under 3 years old, the ministry said.
The ministry forecast that HFMD would continue to spread widely this year and the number of patients would increase.
EV71 is a viral pathogen within the Picornaviridae family and causes clinical diseases in humans with manifestations such as herpangina, aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and HFMD.
EV71-infected children can develop severe neurological complications that lead to rapid clinical deterioration and death.
Since its first appearance in 1969, several large epidemics of HFMD have been reported in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Southeast Asia.
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