A provincial lawmaker has asked the Provincial Health Office (PHO) to look into reports of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases that are spreading in several barangays of Roxas town.

Board Member Ma. Angela Sabando said that a nurse from the Local Government Unit of Roxas gave her a report saying that the town has already seen almost 100 cases.

She said the report given to her shows Barangay Magara with the highest number of cases with 54, followed by Brgy. Nicanor Zabala with 22, San Jose and Brgy. IV with five each, Brgy. New Barbacan with four, Brgy. II with two, and Barangays I, III, Caramay, and Tinitian with one case each.

She also said the breakdown of cases per age group is: 0–11 months with six cases; 1-4 years with 31 cases; 5–9 years with 41 cases; and 10–14 years with 18 cases.

“Overall, 57 cases are male and 39 are female, for a total of 96 cases of HFMD,” Sabando said in her privileged speech during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Tuesday.

Due to the sudden rise in HFMD cases, Sabando said she is asking the Department of Health (DOH), through the PHO, and the Department of Education (DepEd), to run a massive information and education (IEC) campaign about the illness in schools, not only in Roxas but also in other municipalities of the province.

“What I learned is that this disease is very contagious; it started with only one kid from Nicanor Zabala and now has affected almost 100,” she stated.

“There is no known cure yet, and this is self-healing, but what the kids will go through might lead to complications. That’s why we need to act immediately before it spreads out to other places,” she added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Justyne Barbosa, Medical Specialist II of the PHO, said the only report that they have received so far came from Brgy. Magara, where there are 52 cases.

Barbosa said the incident was reported to the PHO on March 24, although there were some discrepancies in the reporting system.

“After learning about the case, we immediately activated our food and water-borne diseases program surveillance and our health promotion program to conduct IEC in the areas affected to inform residents of what to do,” Barbosa said.

“Our medical technologist has also taken oral pharyngeal samples that will be brought to our office, which will then be forwarded to the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and we will have to wait for two weeks for the confirmatory [result],” she added.

Barbosa further explained that while HFMD is not a serious disease, it could worsen if not given immediate proper treatment which would lead to dehydration of the patient and cause mortality.

“This is a relatively mild disease, and if we can catch up early on, we can give immediate medical attention to those affected,” Barbosa said.

“But here in the province of Palawan, so far we do not have a recorded mortality yet because cases are immediately taken care of,” she added.

She also said that they are spreading information about how to deal with the disease in schools right now. To stop the virus from spreading, she said that people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and cough and sneeze in the right way.

“Highly infectious ang patient during the first week, and we can expect the number of cases to increase during the summer,” she explained.

“And while there is no particular cure and no vaccine against the virus, our advice is to keep the immune systems of the kids high for them to recover quickly,” she noted.

She further stated that while there are also cases in other municipalities, there has been no reported sudden increase, unlike in Roxas.

“The presence of the virus is actually always there, but it only becomes alarming when there is an increase in the number of cases. And we are still waiting for the data to come in for us to determine if there is indeed an outbreak,” she said.