(File photo)

Puerto Princesa’s health office has assembled a team to conduct an awareness campaign on how parents may protect their children from contracting the infection after 78 cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) were reported from January to March this year

According to Dr. Ric Panganiban, chief of the City Health Office (CHO), certain instances have been documented at several schools that have requested sanitary assistance.

He said the team that will conduct the HFMD awareness campaign would begin next week to guarantee that instances in the city do not increase.

“We have assigned a group na magcacater lang dito sa concern na specific sa HFMD,” he said.

He said schools should send kids with HFMD symptoms home as soon as possible so that they do not infect others. In shared spaces, frequently touched surfaces should also be sanitized to limit the possibility of cross-contamination.

Apart from paracetamol for fever, Panganiban claims there are no over-the-counter drugs that are helpful against HFMD, and there are presently no vaccinations available.

“That’s viral infection—nagsasanitize naman talaga tayo ngayon kasi hindi pa naman tayo tapos sa COVID. Kaya lang ito kasi iba ang mode ng transmission, direct contact kasi ito, hindi siya yong droplets. Nakarating na ito sa amin, nagpa test na rin kami, nagpadala na kami ng sample, it turned out na ano talaga siya HFMD,” he said.

“Kapag may nakita silang mga lesions, dapat yan di na muna papasukin para di na makahawa sa school. Talagang personal hygiene talaga yan, cleanliness, tapos yon nga, mag-disinfect ang mga schools,” he added.

Palawan State University (PSU) and Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School (PPPES) are two of the schools where HFMD had been reported, Panganiban said.

Other sources of Palawan News also mentioned of cases in a learning center and Palawan National School. An infant brought to PNS by its mother, a student, was found to have HFMD symptoms.

The principal of Holy Trinity University (HTU) has written an advisory to IBED Main Campus Parents informing them that classrooms are being disinfected on a regular basis from primary grades through high school in order to avoid the spread of HFMD and other seasonal diseases.

Parents were further advised to take care of their children’ proper hygiene, observe proper diet, and not to send them to school if they have HFMD, or are showing symptoms related to other illnesses.

Based on data of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit’ (CESU) HFMD, 78 cases have already been recorded in Puerto Princesa from January to March. Of this, four were were logged in January, 54 in February, and 20 this month.

The barangays with highest cases are Irawan with 16, Sta. Lourdes with 15, and Binduyan with 11. They are common in females between the ages of 1-5 years old (35 cases to date).

HFMD is a prevalent infectious disease that primarily affects children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on the hands, feet, and buttocks are frequent symptoms.

But more serious symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis, and polio-like paralysis might potentially appear.

Children can become sick by touching objects contaminated with the feces of infected people. They can catch the virus if they do not wash their hands before eating, touching food, or drinking water. Contact with an HFMD patient’s respiratory discharge or skin lesions can potentially result in infection in children, WHO said.

In May 2022, the Department of Health (DOH) MIMAROPA recorded 417 cases of HFMD in Palawan.

They were recorded in the towns of San Vicente, Bataraza, Cuyo, Rizal, Magsaysay, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, Aborlan, Narra, Taytay, Coron, El Nido, Sofronio Española, and Busuanga.