ILOCOS Region has now recorded 191 confirmed cases out of 677 suspected number of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), significantly higher compared to those of last year, according to its top regional health official Monday.
HFMD is a respiratory disease and a contagious viral infection common in young children. The disease is passed through respiratory droplets, which include sneezing, coughing, and talking.
According to Dr. Rheuel Bobis of the Ilocos Center for Health Development, the region has recorded a “significant increase” compared to the same period last year due to the relaxed masking requirements and unobserved minimum public health standards.
“Nung niluwagan po natin yung masking requirements nagkaroon po ulit ng increased exposure yung ating mga kababayan kaya yung HFMD cases po natin ngayon taon na ito ay mas tumaas po kesa po doon sa nakita natin during the last year,” said Dr. Bobis in an interview.
The official did not disclose the number of confirmed HFMD cases but noted that this year’s cases are higher than the previous year due to the full implementation of in-person classes and relaxed public health protocols.
“As of the latest monitoring, our cases is increasing po talaga until po mag-plateau ito, hindi po natin inaasahang bababa po ito anytime soon,” said Dr.Bobis.
Of the 677 total cases recorded, Pangasinan recorded the most suspected cases with 424, followed by La Union with 200, Ilocos Norte with 43, Dagupan City with 21, and Ilocos Sur with eight suspected HFMD cases.
Meanwhile, children aged one to four have the most number of suspected HFMD cases, with 399, Dr. Bobis said.
Despite the increasing trend of HFMD cases in the region, Bobis said the health department is not seeing the need to declare an HFMD outbreak since there has to be a series of close monitoring and research for it to be considered “with finality.”
The regional health department said they already coordinated with the provincial government and local government units to intensify information dissemination to prevent the spread of HFMD, including the minimum public health standards and masking requirements inside the educational institutions.
Dr. Bobis said they also reached out to the region’s education department to provide logistical support needed to lower the respiratory disease transmission inside the schools.
According to the health official, wearing face masks is the most effective way to contain the spread of respiratory disease among young children, along with frequent hand washing, exercise, and proper sleep.
Dr. Bobis also advised cleaning frequently touched surfaces like tables, door knobs, and handrails.
Photo Credit: Joel Carillet, emedicinehealth.gov