Monday, June 4, 2012

Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease {HFMD} Alert & Tips

As you are probably aware with announcements from the Ministry of Health {MOH}, Health Promotion Board {HPB} and news from your own kids' childcare centres/ schools, Singapore is currently facing an increase in the number of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease {HFMD}. It is now above epidemic threshold of 780 cases per week. Lil Pumpkin's preschool is not out of "danger" and has 16 HFMD cases as of Saturday. 2 from her class :( The parent-teacher communication at Lil Pumpkin's preschool is very fast & up-to-date so we receive notifications everyday {sometimes twice a day} regarding the progress of the cases and how we as parents can help to prevent the spread of HFMD.

It is true that really, we can't just rely on the childcare centres/ schools to upkeep the hygiene on their premises to keep our kids safe. We should co-operate & do our part too as it affects every one of us.

1. Avoid public and crowded places {e.g. playgrounds, libraries, playdates etc.}
Now is the June holiday period and it is of course a wonderful time for families to spend time outdoors or for the kids to meet their friends {especially with all the kids-friendly things to do in S'pore!}, but try not to now or at least cut down. HFMD is easily spread from direct contact with nasal discharge, saliva, fluid from the blisters etc.

2. Stress importance of good hygiene practices
The kids probably know all these but be extra vigilant they follow the hygiene practices like covering their mouths when coughing, sneezing into a tissue, washing their hands often especially before and after eating, using the toilet etc.

3. Don't share eating utensils
HFMD can easily be spread through toys, books, clothes etc. used by an infected person, so what more about eating utensils? Try not to share eating utensils with your child even at home so that they get used to it.

4. Keep your kid at home when sick
I guess we are all a little guilty of sending our kids to class when they have a little sniffles or cough. However, now may not be the best time especially if their immunity level is low as they are more susceptible to catching HFMD. Plus, they may also spread their cold & cough to their friends in school and add "fire" to the situation!

5. Check regularly for symptoms
HFMD has symptoms like fever, ulcers in the mouth, blisters / blister-like rash on the hands, feet & bottom. The infected persons also seem weak with no appetite, and may even vomit and have diarrhea. If you aren't sure, just bring your kid to the doctor to confirm.

6. Wear socks at the childcare centres/ preschools
Lil Pumpkin's preschool now requests for all the kids to wear non-slip socks in their premise. This is probably a good practice for your child, even if his/her childcare centre/ school has not requested for it yet.

7. Plan ahead for alternative care
If your chilcare centre / school has more than 16 cases with a transmission period of more than 24 days. there is a mandatory closure to break the disease cycle for the safety and well-being of the children. It's probably ok if you are a SAHP, but if you are working, plan ahead so that you will not be suddenly inconvenienced. Make sure you have enough leave days, or ask somebody in advance for their help as an alternative care giver.

Lil Pumpkin has never caught HFMD. As much as we pray that she doesn't, it is a very real possibility that she might. HFMD can occur in all age groups {heard of adults having it too} but young kids are particularly prone to this infection. Even if we keep Lil Pumpkin home during this period, we can't keep her away for the rest of her school-going years! Even primary schools have started regular HFMD checks, not just the childcare centres or preschools.

Here are some other resources on HFMD:

Ministry of Health {S'pore} - HFMD Updates
Health Promotion Board {S'pore} - HFMD Information
MCYS {S'pore} - HFMD Education Materials
BabyCentre - HFMD in Children

If you have any tips or experiences with HFMD, share them here!

P.S. Anything discussed here is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please discuss with your medical practitioner if you have any concerns.


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DinoMama said...

Little DinoEgg only caught HFMD virus thrice; once was mild and once was full blast where there were alot of ulcers in his mouth that he cant eat or drink milk (He was 2yrs plus tt time). We gave him ice cream to eat instead as its cold n sort of numb the pain from the ulcers.

Since then I am very alert on HFMD, its peak period is May - Sept (hot seasons over here), I will try to give him Chinese liang teh (cooling tea) once in a while or when I notice that his body is getting heaty (very easy to tell for him as his tongue will have red patches). We sometimes gives him barley water & chrysanthemum tea too. Now that I am cooking more often during weekends, I try to boil soup that has "cooling" benefits. I buy those prepacked soup packet from supermarket or according to recipe books I have on hand.

Anyway the best remedy will be lots of water and step up on the VitC.

Theresa Mahoney said...

Thankfully we have never had that here! I am paranoid of any contageous disease though, especially after watching Contageon a few weeks ago. It's scary how quickly a virus can be passed on!

~Summer~ said...

Thanks for the tips Ai! HFMD still seems so distant from me since it never happens here, but I fear I need to take precaution once I get back to sg in a few months' time!

Ai Sakura said...

DinoEgg: wow 3 times?! poor thing.. thanks for the great tips too!

Theresa: yes yes! those shows really up the fear factor on contagious dieseases. eeks!

Summer: I never really took notice of HFMD until recent years too. Will Angel be going to a childcare centre when she's back?

Grace said...

HFMD does its rounds here in Australia. Luckily the twinlets haven't had it (touch wood).
It's so contagious too! Ugh.