GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – A rapidly spreading Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) has caused alarm among local officials in Banga, South Cotabato, who are set to discuss the possibility of declaring a state of calamity to allocate funds to combat the outbreak.
The infections increased from two-digit to three-digit numbers in a matter of days since late January.
Dr. Ellen Quidilla of the Banga Municipal Health Office said more than 200 residents, mostly children, have been infected with HFMD as of Wednesday, February 1. The youngest patient is a two-month-old infant and the oldest is 75 years old.
With only two barangays reporting no cases of HFMD, the town’s Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) and barangay leaders are scheduled to meet on Monday, February 6, to devise a plan to mitigate the spread of the highly-contagious disease.
“Our personnel has been going around to disinfect schools and public places as well as to inform residents on the need for proper sanitation,” said Joseph Franco, the head of the Banga MRRDMO.
Dr. Cynthia Corneta, the town’s health officer, has dispatched teams to distribute hygiene kits and urge families of infected individuals to self-isolate for at least a week.
Local health officials have advised residents to seek medical attention as soon as they notice symptoms such as fever, mouth sores, and skin rashes.
While the disease is common among infants and children under five years old, health officials have stressed the importance of frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with infected individuals.
The Department of Health’s epidemiological surveillance unit in the Soccsksargen region said there is no specific cure for HFMD.
The town has been no stranger to the disease, as health officials have previously issued warnings on social media about the need for residents to take precautions during the HFMD season. Despite this, the current outbreak has reached alarming levels, requiring immediate action from local officials. – Rappler.com
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