Date: Mon 12 Dec 2011
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Travelers'
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of hand,
foot and mouth disease (HFMD) attributed to [human] enterovirus 71
(EV71). The outbreak is concentrated in the southern part of the
country, but cases have been reported from all regions.
Cities and provinces with the highest numbers of HFMD deaths are Ho
Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Long An, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Bac
Lieu, Dong Tap, Tien Giang, and Quang Ngai.
As of mid-October 2011, Viet Nam had reported 80 000 cases of HFMD and
137 deaths. As in other outbreaks of EV71-associated HFMD reported in
Southeast Asia since 1997, a small proportion of children with the
disease have developed severe, often fatal complications, including
HFMD is a common illness that usually affects infants and young
children. However, older children and adults can also become infected.
HFMD can be caused by several different viruses. Symptoms of HFMD
include fever, painful blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin
rash. HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with the
viruses that cause this disease. These viruses can be found in saliva,
nasal secretions, blister fluid, and feces of the infected persons.
The viruses also may be spread when an infected person touches objects
and surfaces that are then touched by others.
You can protect yourself from HFMD by practicing healthy personal
hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before
you eat, after you cough or sneeze, and after you go to the bathroom
or change a baby's diaper. If soap and water are not available, use an
alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60 percent alcohol). Consider
packing alcohol-based hand gel in your carry-on luggage to ensure you
have it when needed [However, you won't get through airport security
with it in the UK and many other countries. - Mod.CP]. Disinfect dirty
surfaces and soiled items. Avoid close contact such as kissing,
hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with HFMD.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against the viruses that
cause HFMD. The personal hygiene measures described above are the best
protection. There is no specific treatment for HFMD. However, some
things can be done to relieve symptoms, such as taking
over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever (Caution:
Aspirin should not be given to children), and using mouthwashes or
sprays that numb mouth pain. If a person develops mouth sores, staying
hydrated is important. An ill person who cannot swallow enough liquids
to stay hydrated should see a doctor. Fluids may need to be given
The current outbreak in Viet Nam has been attributed to EV71. HFMD is
one of many infections that cause mouth sores. If laboratory diagnosis
is required, throat swabs or stool specimens may be tested for