Greater HFMD concern in Thailand with boy's death

( ) Updated: 2012-07-30 13:35:52

Wanlip Nutawai, soaked in water and sweat, is scrubbing trains with a mop dipped with sanitizer at Thailand's largest railway hub Hua Lamphong Railway Station in Bangkok, one carriage at a time.

Walip is used to strenuous cleaning work. But this time he finds a bit more value in his job. "I'm glad to hear that cleaning can help protect children from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), " Wanlip said. He and about a dozen fellow cleaners are part of a campaign to curb HFMD in Thailand.

People are cleaning and sterilizing at many schools and other public spaces in Thailand after a Cambodian boy died of suspected hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in Rayong province, east of Bangkok.

Two-year-old Kimha died in emergency treatment, two hours after being admitted to a local hospital on Wednesday, a spokesman for Thailand's Ministry of Public Health confirmed Friday. Although the boy showed symptoms of HFMD, tests are being run to decide if he died of HFMD. Results are expected in a few days.

Kimha suffered from breathing difficulty, fatigue and blisters on his palms and feet, Rayong provincial health authority chief Krit Palasuth was quoted as saying by earlier reports. Children who were in close contact with him also developed symptoms of HFMD and are being observed at a local hospital, he added.

The boy lived with his parents in a rented house. His parents took him to local clinics twice on Monday and Tuesday, but his conditions continued to worsen. He was suspected to have contracted the disease from a toddler friend just returned from Cambodia.

Kimha's death caused panic in Rayong, a hub of Cambodian migrant workers. Many people rushed to buy energy drinks, following a report that Cambodians are taking energy drink to prevent HFMD. Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had refuted the claim as false advertisement.

Energy drinks cannot help to prevent or treat HFMD. It can even be fatal for children with the disease, as the caffeine in the drinks worsens the symptoms, FDA Secretary General Srinual Korakochakorn said.

Rayong authorities have urged Cambodian migrant workers to suspend travels to their home country. Clean-up campaigns are launched across the province with efforts to promote HFMD awareness. The disease can be prevented with good hygienic conditions.

An additional 179 cases of HFMD were reported Friday in Bangkok. More than 3,500 cases have been reported in the capital city this year, according to Wongwat Lewlak, head of the Bangkok municipality's Communicable Diseases Control Division.

Dozens of schools and kindergartens have been closed in Bangkok. Some schools are also reported to have been closed because of the disease in other parts of the country.

Some 13,000 HFMD cases have been reported in Thailand this year. The viral infection, which mostly affects children, is usually mild, doctors say. Before Kimha, whose cause of death is yet to be confirmed, no death of the disease were publicly reported in Thailand since the beginning of the year.

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