Singapore on alert for hand,foot and mouth disease
SINGAPORE, Mar 23 (Reuters) Singapore's Ministry of Health has told schools and childcare centres to be on the alert for signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) following a spike in the number of cases.
Singapore has recorded 2,180 cases of the disease since the start of the year. It mainly affects children under the age of 10, causing fever, mouth ulcers and rashes.
The weekly average number of cases has jumped from 113 in January, to 174 in February and 372 in March, data from the health ministry showed.
The Straits Times newspaper reported that a childcare centre, which had about 20 cases of HFMD infection in the last 19 days, shut temporarily to prevent transmission.
The ministry urged schools and centres to step up hygiene, look out for signs of the disease, and isolate any child suspected of having the virus.
It said there were more cases this year because of a more virulent strain of HFMD, which caused seven deaths in Singapore during the last outbreak in 2000 and 2001.
More than 4,000 children have been infected with the disease in East Malaysia this year and eight have died. There has been one death in Brunei.
REUTERS DKS BS1614