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Health department sees spike in viral illness

Incidents of hand, foot and mouth disease rise ten-fold over last year, with 27 children dead

Children with HFMD and their relatives have to wait in the hospital's corridors Children with HFMD and their relatives have to wait in the hospital's corridors
  • ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Vietnam
  • May 30, 2012
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Cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) have risen tenfold in the country since last year, according to data from the Department of Preventative Medicine.

Vietnam recorded 46,277 cases this year and 27 children have died from the disease, a viral illness that affects infants and children under the age of five, said Nguyen Van Binh, head of the department.

A poor harvest has aggravated the financial burden of families already living in poverty but now facing expensive healthcare costs.

Maria Duong Thi Hoai, 35, said her 2-year-old daughter was hospitalized five days ago and remains unconscious with a fever at the Children’s Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We have no money to pay the 40 million dong (US$2,000) for her medical care and have had to promise to pay all costs later so that the doctors will continue to treat her,” she said.

She added that the family has taken a loan from her parents and she pawned her motorbike to help defray costs, since they have earned a mere 900,000 dong so far this year from their 5,000 acres of cassava.

Three other children from her village have come down with the disease.

Nguyen Thi Truc Ly said her child has been in hospital for the last week.

“My child and other children have to lie in corridors because so many children are hospitalized [with the illness],” she said.

The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease include rash, fever and sore throat and are easily treatable. However, they can lead to complications if not properly treated, such as spinal meningitis and encephalitis.
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