By Jim Lloyd Dongiapon

The Department of Health (DOH) Davao Region has recorded a total of 888 cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) as of January 28 this year.

Davao de Oro, with 247 cases, has the most of the aforementioned total, followed by Davao del Norte, with 217 cases, Davao City, with 204 cases, and Davao Occidental, with 154 cases. In contrast, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental each have only 12 and 54 cases, respectively.

According to the DOH Davao Region, there was a significant increase from the 386 cases initially recorded from January 1 to 21, or an additional 502 cases recorded during the previous month’s last week.

The resumption of face-to-face classes and the relaxation of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which allowed children to interact freely and potentially spread the disease’s virus, may be responsible for the sudden uptrend in cases.

However, the agency allayed public fears regarding HFMD by clarifying that the illness is common in the country and is typically mild. It added that the disease only manifests itself sporadically, or at random times, when there are few or no cases reported.

In the past years, particularly during the height of the pandemic, only a few HFMD cases were recorded, mainly because of limited interaction between young students.

The region recorded 22 cases in 2021, and 711 in 2022.

HFMD is typically caused by coxsackievirus a16 and enterovirus 71, and it is most common in children under the age of five, but it can affect anyone, regardless of age.

Its symptoms include blisters in the mouth, hands, feet, and genital area; fever; sore throat; appetite loss; and fatigue. These occur three to five days after catching the virus.

It can spread through direct physical contact with an infected person, particularly through the fluid from their blisters or droplets from their cough or sneeze; human feces; and infected objects.

As there is no specific treatment for HFMD, patients are usually given symptomatic treatment.

In most cases, patients recover seven to 14 days after the onset of symptoms. 

However, if the symptoms worsen, they should be rushed to the hospital or to the nearest barangay health center for immediate medical care. 

The general public is advised to stay away from infected people, avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, regularly wash their hands with soap and water, disinfect household items, isolate when experiencing HFMD symptoms, drink water, eat healthy foods, and avoid taking antibiotics unless blisters are infected or as directed by a physician. 

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