DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Department of Health in the Davao Region is urging caution as cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) continue to rise in Southern Mindanao.
According to the DOH, an additional 502 cases have been reported since January 2021, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 888.
The majority of cases have been reported among children aged nine years old and younger, with Davao de Oro having the highest number of cases at 247.
It was followed by Davao del Norte with 217, Davao City with 204, Davao Occidental with 154, Davao Oriental with 54, and Davao del Sur with 12.
Classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an infectious disease caused by a common virus among children, HFMD is characterized by symptoms such as fever, painful sores around the mouth, and a rash with blisters on the hands, feet, and buttocks.
While the disease is not fatal and does not require medication beyond treatment for fever, patients are advised to stay at home for seven to 10 days to prevent spreading the virus.
DOH-Davao assistant regional director Dr. Gerna Manatad said there was no outbreak of HFMD in the region and that patients were experiencing mild symptoms, with no deaths reported.
Manatad said that while there has been a concentration of 20 cases in one area, it is not considered an outbreak.
But the Davao City Health Office (CHO) expressed concern, as they have received numerous inquiries from parents regarding the disease.
CHO acting head Dr. Marj Culas said, “We are alarmed by the highly contagious nature of the disease. Reports of infections from swimming pools and schools have added to our concern. The dispensary at the City Health main office has seen a surge of parents seeking consultations for their children.”
Local health officials advised the public to observe proper hygiene protocols, such as frequent hand-washing, to prevent the spread of infection.
Compared to the 22 cases of HFMD reported in Davao Region in 2021, the number of cases increased dramatically to 711 in 2022, leading the health agency to take proactive measures to contain the spread of the disease. (originally posted on rappler.com)
Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.davao region, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, philippines