ALOR SETAR, June 9 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) expects cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) to decline in the next two to three weeks.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the spread of the disease is usually seasonal and as the level of children’s immunity increases, the number of cases will go down.
“HFMD is usually seasonal, it will start and become a wave and in less than a month, it will go down significantly on its own.
“When many children are exposed to this virus, their immunity level will increase and the number of cases will then decrease, while intervention in terms of personal hygiene, disinfection of nurseries, childcare centres, and so on also helps,” he said at a press conference here today.
Earlier, he attended the presentation of medical equipment donated by the Japanese government through the Japanese Grant Aid to the MOH. The Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Takahashi Katsuhiko was also present.
Khairy said MOH had a theory for the sharp increase in HFMD cases this year compared to pre-pandemic 2019.
He added that during the pandemic period for the past two years, children spent less time outdoors and thus were not exposed to the HFMD virus, resulting in low immunity.
“Hence, due to the lack of exposure to this virus, immunity level goes down. The child has never encountered this virus. This is the classical theory of natural immunity. When not exposed to this virus, immunity will be low.
“That’s probably why the number of cases is quite high now because the Coxsackie HFMD virus is invading our children who only have naive virus (with no previous encounter to build immunity), so that’s why there will be a lot of cases at this point,” he said.
He explained that most cases of HFMD in the country are not serious, but parents are advised to immediately bring children for treatment if they have symptoms and stop sending them to daycare, kindergarten, or childcare centres if they are infected. — Bernama