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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Vietnam

13 Jul 2012

An outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has been reported from the central province of Quang Nam. Around 780 cases have been recorded since the beginning of 2012, this compares with 12 cases reported for the same time period of 2011. Most of the infections have been in children under the age of 3 years.

Countrywide, around 50 000 cases of HFMD with 27 associated deaths have been recorded thus far in 2012. Of concern is the rising incidence of human enterovirus 71 (EV-71) as the infecting organism. EV-71 is the most common and dangerous enterovirus causing HFMD and is associated with all 27 fatalities and 80% of infections in Vietnam this year (2012).

In 2011, 20% of HFMD infections were caused by EV-71 and most but not all of the 169 associated deaths. Most of last year's infections were caused by a coxsackievirus.

EV-71 infection has recently been identified as the cause of death of 61 children in Cambodia.

Advice for Travellers

HFMD is a common viral illness which spreads rapidly among children in particular; outbreaks most often occur in children's nurseries and daycare centres. Transmission is via direct contact with nose and throat secretions and faeces if an infected individual and by aerosol droplet spread. Contact with infected children should be limited and crowded situations avoided; personal hygiene and handwashing is paramount in reducing transmission.