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Indonesian Health Dept Issues Caution to Prevent Spread of Viral HFMD


Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is an infectious illness commonly found in infants and children under 10 years old, caused by enteroviruses. While adults can also become infected, they often show no symptoms and act as carriers of the disease.

The Health Ministry is urging the public to remain vigilant against HFMD as authorities have reported a rise in cases ahead of the Idul Fitri holiday season. Nearly 5,500 cases of HFMD were reported across the country between January and March 16, with an increase observed in 20 out of 38 provinces compared to the same period last year, according to ministry spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi. However, she emphasized that the rise was insignificant.

HFMD, also known locally as the “Singapore flu,” manifests with symptoms including fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers, and rash and blisters on the hands and feet. Symptoms typically subside within seven to ten days without treatment. The disease spreads through direct contact with mucus, saliva, feces, and fluids from blisters of an infected person, with patients being most contagious during the first week of illness.

In Indonesia, HFMD often spreads during seasonal transitions, particularly between the dry and rainy seasons in March to April and October to November. Temperature changes during these transitions can weaken the immune system, increasing susceptibility to viruses and infections.

The recent increase in HFMD cases in Indonesia was linked to a spike in cases in neighboring Singapore, according to Health Ministry health quarantine and surveillance director Achmat Farchanny Tri Adriyatno. Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin advised the public to maintain a healthy immune system by getting enough sleep and maintaining a balanced diet. Parents were also cautioned to ensure their children stay hydrated, as mouth ulcers caused by HFMD may discourage them from drinking water, leading to dehydration and worsening infection.

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