• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Describing the 6,300 percent increase of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease cases in Negros Occidental as “alarming,” Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said he is most likely to support the recommendation of the Provincial Health Office to declare an HMFD outbreak in the province.
The PHO recommended the declaration of HFMD outbreaks in several local government units in the province that have reached the criteria for an epidemic.
Since the PHO are in a better position to advise the declaration of an outbreak, I will have to follow their judgement, Lacson said.
PHO recorded 320 HFMD cases from January to February 4 this year, compared to five in the same period of 2022, registering an increase of 6,300 percent.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang noted that the increase of HFMD cases indicates it could be easily transmitted now that there are face-to-face interactions, especially among children in school.
HFMD is common among young children under five years old, although anyone could still get infected. Although it is highly contagious, the illness is however, not serious.
Lacson said the declaration of HMFD outbreak is just really so all City and Municipal Health Offices will exert more effort to inform their respective constituents about the disease, which is contagious.
He also stressed the need to alert the Department of Education in Negros Occidental, since it is mostly young children that are affected.
HMFD symptoms include fever, painful sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters on hands, feet and buttocks. However, severe symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis and polio may occur, PHO said.
In the fifth morbidity week this year alone, Negros Occidental has logged 85 new cases.
As to when the outbreak will be declared, Lacson said he will consult first with the PHO, since he has yet to officially receive a request from them.
The PHO report further indicated that Kabankalan City has the highest number of HFMD cases with 73, compared to zero cases last year.
Other LGUs with double digit HMFD cases, include Cauayan – 41, Cadiz City – 36, Bago City – 26, Manapla – 24, Valladolid – 18, Sipalay – 16, Binalbagan and Sipalay – 15 each, Talisay City – 14, and 11 in Hinobaan.*