DOH disinfects schools, probes Batangas hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak

Tina Ganzon-Ozaeta
DOH disinfects schools, probes Batangas hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak

EXAMINATION. A health worker examines the hand of a young student in San Pascual, Batangas to check on possible signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease.

San Pascual Rural Health Unit

DOH Calabarzon says 49 cases in San Pascual town, mostly children in the 1-16 years age group, fit the case definition of HFMD, while Cuenca town reports 33 cases

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) in CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) sent teams to schools and barangays on Tuesday, October 18, as it began an epidemiological investigation of the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) outbreak in San Pascual and Cuenca towns in Batangas province.

San Pascual Mayor Antonio Dimayuga suspended Daycare to Grade 3 classes from October 18 to 21 to conduct disinfection.

The Public Information Center of Cuenca town, also in Batangas on Tuesday evening announced the suspension of face-to-face classes in all public and private schools from elementary to senior high school, starting October 19 due to the spread of HFMD.  It advised the public to await further notice on the resumption of face-to-face classes. 

DOH CALABARZON Regional Director Ariel I. Valencia said they have started with active case-finding, sending specimen to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila to determine the causative agent.

Valencia said the DOH regional health office logged 105 cases with clinical symptoms of HFMD from September 26 to October 16, but only 49 cases in San Pascual town fit the suspect HFMD case definition.

Most of the HFMD cases are children in the 1- 16 years old age group and are predominantly male, Valencia said.

The patients are mostly pupils from various schools in the town and residents of 11 different barangays that include Pook ng Kapitan, Sambat, Natunuan North, Poblacion, Pook ni Banal, San Antonio, Resplandor, Antipolo, Mataas na Lupa, Palsahingin, and Alalum.

The Cuenca Municipal Health Office, meanwhile, reported 33 confirmed cases in six barangays.

HFMD is a contagious viral infection that commonly affects young children and is characterized by sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. It is different from Foot and Mouth disease, which affects livestock and does not infect humans.

It is transmitted through droplets or direct contact with nasal discharges, saliva, feces, and fluid from the rashes of an infected individual.

“The results of the RITM tests, can help medical workers in the clinical management of the disease by preventing further complications,” Valencia explained.

Department of Health Officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire on October 18 said the more serious form of HFMD, though not common, could display symptoms similar to meningitis, encephalitis, or polio.

Aside from providing disinfection solutions, the DOH also distributed educational materials to keep the community aware of HFMD transmission moves and take the necessary precautions.

 “We assure the public that the DOH, together with the Municipality of San Pascual, are on top of the situation, Valencia said.

Parents are encouraged to teach their children protective habits like frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, and covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing.

Children must eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly to increase their immunity against infectious diseases such as HFMD, the DOH guide said.

“There is no specific treatment for HFMD. But with good personal hygiene, regular cleaning and disinfecting of common areas or frequently touched surfaces, and avoiding close contact with someone who has hand-foot-and-mouth disease can reduce your child’s risk of infection,” Valencia concluded. –

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