Local health officials have reported at least 10 cases of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease (HFMD), a contagious disease affecting children below five years old, in the towns of San Miguel, Bato and Virac, the Tribune learned last week.
In a report sent to Governor Joseph Cua, the mayors and health officers of the three municipalities last June 20, 2022, Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes said that on June 10, the Provincial Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit (PESU) received reports of suspected cases of HFMD during morbidity weeks 22 and 23 in Bato and San Miguel.
The suspect cases were apparently reported to health authorities sometime during the last week of May.
Five of the cases were from San Miguel, all seen at the Rural Health Unit, as well as one from Bato who was an outpatient client at Bato Maternity and Children’s Hospital.
On June 16, the report said, an additional four cases of suspected HFMD were detected by the PESU in a community in San Miguel, including one resident of Virac who was brought by his parents to the barangay.
The PESU team, as well as representatives from the RHUs of Bato and San Miguel, had visited the initial cases to conduct environmental survey and to collect specimens for testing.
The cases are from Mabato (6) and District 1 (2) in San Miguel, Ilawod Poblacion in Bato and Palnab in Virac, the report stated, with the cases ranging in age from 1 to 4 years old and most of them males.
Two of the Mabato cases are siblings and live in the same compound. They are also relatives with the other three cases in the same barangay as well as the case from Virac.
The case from Virac had visited their relatives and played with the other cases on June 9 before he and his family returned to the capital town on June 10 with no signs and symptoms noted.
On June 13, however, the boy was noted to have painful, blister-like rashes in the different parts of his body and then developed fever the following day, along with loss of appetite, sore throat and nausea and vomiting.
They went back to San Miguel on June 15 with the boy, still having the rashes, seen by the team the next day.
According to the PHO, all 10 cases had fever and rashes located in the palms, soles of feet, fingers and buttocks as well as mouth ulcers.
Other signs and symptoms noted in five of the cases were poor or loss of appetite, body malaise, sore throat, and nausea and vomiting.
In the environmental survey conducted, the team stated that there were environmental and sanitation factors that may have contributed to the occurrence and/or transmission of the HFMD in the communities visited: poor sanitation; toys seen floating in the canal were water from the household’s comfort room flows; common playground; non-observance of minimum public health standards; and non-isolation of the cases even if they had already been advised.
All of the suspected HFMD cases have yet to be confirmed through a positive laboratory result for human Enteroviruses that cause the disease, the report clarified.
Throat swabs had been collected from the reported cases and those who were seen in the community, with the specimens transported to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On the other hand, the PHO and concerned health facilities are conducting case management, monitoring and active surveillance for other cases.
HFMD is classified by the Department of Health (DOH) as a Category I Immediately Notifiable Disease, with local health authorities supposed to submit a Case Investigation Form (CIF) within 24 hours from detection.