DISINFECTION. Personnel of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of Banga town in South Cotabato conducted disinfection in Punong Grande Elementary School in Barangay Punong Grande on Jan. 26 to stop the spread of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Joseph Franco, the MDRRMO chief, bares Monday (Jan. 30, 2023) that the disease has infected at least 51 children in the municipality. (Photo courtesy of Punong Grande Elementary School)

KORONADAL CITY – Although largely contained, the municipality of Banga in South Cotabato has recorded 51 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in 15 of its 22 barangays since last week.

Joseph Franco, chief of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said most of those infected by the HFMD were children in the villages of Rizal Poblacion, Malaya and Punong Grande.

“The infected children range from 1 to 10 years old, most of them are pupils from various public elementary schools,” Franco said in an interview Monday.

To stop the spread of the disease, he said the MDRRMO is conducting disinfection upon the request of the heads of the infected schools.

“We usually schedule our disinfection after lunch so that after a half-day suspension of classes, the pupils can go back to school the following morning,” Franco said.

Since HFMD is contagious, he said infected individuals are advised to isolate themselves in their homes for 5 to 10 days.

Franco said the Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato has distributed hygiene kits to HFMD-infected children.

HFMD cases became known to the Banga town when it was reported by some private hospitals to the municipal health office, he said.

He said HFMD is common in children under 5 years old, but anyone can get it.

“The illness is usually not serious, but it is very contagious. It spreads quickly at schools and daycare centers,” Franco said.

Symptoms include sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. (PNA)