Malaysia shuts 500 nursery schools to curb disease
KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 3 (Reuters) Malaysia has ordered the closure of nearly 500 kindergarten schools on the island of Borneo after four children died of the hand, foot and mouth viral disease, official news agency Bernama said today.
Sarawak, one of the two eastern Malaysian states on Borneo, has reported four deaths from the disease, the agency said.
Health officials have called for 488 schools to be shut for two weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the disease, Health Minister Chua Soi Lek told reporters.
''This action is taken to cut off the transmission of the infection of the disease, which increased markedly in Sarawak,'' the agency quoted Chua as saying.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral infection common in children and results in fever, mouth sores and a blistering rash, usually on the hands and feet. It is unrelated to foot-and-mouth disease, a disease of cattle, sheep and swine.
Children are most susceptible to HFMD, but adults can also be affected.
Malaysia reported 13 cases of the disease in 2001, in its southern-most state of Johor, bordering Singapore. The previous year four children died of the disease, and an outbreak in 1997 killed 13.
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