HFMD DISINFECTION. Personnel of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Banga, South Cotabato, conduct disinfection at P. Septin Elementary School in Barangay Lam-Apos on Feb. 3, 2023 after several of its learners were reported to have been infected with hand, foot and mouth disease. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Banga)

KORONADAL CITY – The local government of Banga town in South Cotabato province said it has intensified its awareness campaign against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) following an increase in cases among children.

Ellen Quidilla, the municipal health office (MHO) chief, said local health field workers have been deployed to communities and schools to conduct HFMD orientation and prevent the further spread of the disease.

“We taught them (barangay and school officials) how to detect suspected HFMD cases so that they can isolate children with symptoms like lesions and rushes mostly on the mouth and feet,” Quidilla said Tuesday in an interview.

As of Feb. 3, the number of HFMD cases in Banga that so far affected 19 out of the 22 barangays stood at 293, most of which were recorded among school children.

“We can consider this now as an outbreak; the youngest HFMD patient is 6 months old and the oldest is 76 years old,” Quidilla said.

Since HFMD is a contagious disease, she said it can spread easily among children who are mobile and often play with their neighbors.

HFMD is common in children under 5 years old, but anyone can get infected.

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

HFMD cases became known to the Banga town government when it was reported by some private hospitals to the MHO last week.

Joseph Franco, the municipal disaster risk reduction and management office chief, said they are currently conducting disinfection in infected schools.

Franco said HFMD-infected individuals are advised to home isolate for five to 10 days. (PNA)