KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — A total of 47,209 hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases have been reported nationwide from the beginning of this year up to May 21, according to the Health Ministry (MoH).

In a statement today, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah pointed out that this was a 20 time increase in cases compared to the same timeframe of the first 20 epidemiological (epi) week, last year.

Only 2,237 cases of HFMD were recorded up to epi week 20 of last year.

"Meanwhile, nationwide cases reported in epi week 20 of 2022 numbered 15,548, compared to 7,526 cases in epi week 19 of 2022, which is an increase of 106.6 per cent.

"The increase in cases in epi week 20 was expected following travels by Malaysians during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that based on medical surveillance in Malaysia, the three main viruses that caused the transmission of HFMD this year, were the Coxsackie A16 (CA16), Coxsackie A6 (CA6) and Enterovirus 71 (EV71).

"In 2022, to date, there have been two positive HFMD cases with EV71 who were admitted into intensive care units (ICUs) due to complications involving inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

"Both cases were children aged below six years old,” he added.

He added that, up to May 21 this year, the highest number of cases among the states and Federal Territories was detected in Selangor, with 13,640 cases - accounting for 28.9 per cent of all cases this year.

This was followed by Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with 6,206 cases (13.1 per cent), Perak with 4,099 cases (8.7 per cent), Kelantan with 3,726 cases (7.9 per cent) and Sabah with 3,352 cases (7.1 per cent).

The remaining states and Federal Territories recorded "around or less than” 2,500 cases.

In terms of age groups, children aged six and under were the most prone to contracting the disease, with 43,736 cases (93 per cent) among them.

There were 2,765 (six per cent) of cases among those aged between seven and 12, and 696 cases (one per cent) among those older than 12.

Dr Noor Hisham also reported that there were 1,168 outbreaks of HFMD this year.

The three highest number of outbreaks occurred in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with 413 outbreaks (35.4 per cent), Selangor with 143 outbreaks(12.2 per cent), and Perak with 130 outbreaks (11.1 per cent).

Top locations for outbreaks were nurseries, kindergartens and pre-school with 711 outbreaks (61 per cent), followed by private homes with 407 outbreaks (35 per cent), as well as child care centres with 42 outbreaks (three per cent).