Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious virus that results in a fever, rashes, and even more severe complications like brain, lung, and heart infections.
The Ministry of Health reported a 4-year high of the number of HFMD cases, with as many as 1,349 cases in late May. While the number of cases has since gone down slightly, the total number of cases for 2016 has worryingly exceeded 20,000.
Young children below 5 years of age are particularly susceptible to HFMD. There's no vaccine against the disease, but here are 6 preventive measures you need to take to prevent your child from contracting the virus.
1. Teach your child good hygiene practices
The HFMD virus can be spread through direct contact, so basic hygiene habits like washing their hands with soap and water before and after eating and after going to the toilet go a long way in keeping your child well.
2. Don't share food
HFMD can be transmitted through saliva as well, so teach your child not to share food or drinks, or even eating utensils, with others.
3. Clean and disinfect
Toddlers, especially, tend to leave nasal or oral secretions on things they come in contact with. Make sure common surfaces, their strollers, toys, and other items are cleaned and disinfected before they are used again.
4. Look out for symptoms
Take your child's temperature before sending him to school or letting him go outdoors. Do it habitually as a precautionary measure even if he's not feeling unwell.
If you spot mouth ulcers, or blisters on his hands or feet, take him to get a thorough medical examination immediately (and don't let him continue going to school!).
5. And look beyond the physical
Symptoms are not just physical! If your child is more irritable, lethargic, or has poor appetite, it might be the symptoms of HFMD surfacing.
6. Don't let your guard down
It's not like chickenpox - you CAN get HFMD more than once.
Even if your child has recovered from HFMD, keep up the preventive measures to avoid him contracting it again.
By Pinky Chng, June 2016
Last updated September 2016