HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam has warned health officials nationwide to be on the lookout for an infectious disease that has killed 12 children in the country this year, a health official said Friday.
So far, Vietnam has reported about 2,800 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common childhood illness that typically causes little more than a fever and rash, said Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Preventive Medicine Department, under Vietnam’s Ministry of Health. Nga did not give the number of cases from previous years.
About 400 of those cases have been blamed on enterovirus 71, or EV-71, one of several viruses that cause the illness. EV-71 can result in a more serious form of hand, foot and mouth disease that can lead to paralysis, brain swelling or death.
Neighboring China has been particularly hard hit by the virus this year, with more than 25,000 cases among children and 43 deaths.
In Vietnam, state media quoted Trinh Quan Huan, vice minister of health, as saying the situation is becoming more complicated with the virus spreading in the north of the country.
The disease is usually characterized by ulcers in the mouth, rash and blisters on hands and feet. Since it mostly sickens children and is easily spread, the ministry has ordered that kindergartens should be closed for two weeks if at least two cases are reported.