As the Philippines’ health department reports an increase in hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) cases, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon advised the premier humanitarian organization’s network of barangay-based volunteers to be vigilant. HFMD is a highly contagious viral infection that is common among infants and children. Gordon added that greater caution is needed as children interact with each other in face-to-face classes and with family during the Christmas season.
“PRC’s Health Services Team has alerted all our 100+ chapters — and our RC143 volunteers — to be vigilant and report to our Operations Center information from the barangays on HFMD cases,” Gordon said.
It is different from foot-and-mouth, or hoof-and-mouth, disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. People infected by HFMD are most contagious during the first week of their illness. Its incubation period is two to 14 days. Its signs and symptoms are fever, sore throat, malaise (feeling of being unwell), painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums, and the inside of the cheeks, red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles, and sometimes the buttocks, irritability in infants and toddlers, and loss of appetite.
HFMD is transmitted through contact with nose and throat discharges and saliva of infected persons and contaminated objects. Good hygiene, such as proper handwashing, can decrease the risk of spreading the disease. Disinfection of premises and all infected surfaces will also help.