Don’t confuse Hand-foot-mouth Disease (HFMD) with the unrelated Foot and mouth Disease found in cattle, sheep, and pigs. They may sound the same, but they are entirely unrelated. HFMD is a virus contagious for humans. No vaccine is available but it is easily preventable. However, in the first four months of 2014, 114 people died from it in China.
Usually HFMD is most common in young children under seven, but more and more adults are getting infected and Chinese netizens are starting to ask: “Has the virus mutated?”
In just one example talked about on Chinese social media, in one week in May this year, over 2,000 children and some adults were treated for the disease in just one single hospital in Kunming.
Even with China’s population, that’s really a lot. And according to the World Health Organization, the cases have more than doubled.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
Fever, mouth ulcers, and rashes on hands, feet, mouth, hips, and knees.
HFMD isn’t usually fatal, and is prevented by basic hygiene, such as washing hands more than once a day, but death cases in China are increasing. If the rashes are followed by symptoms of trembling, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and cold lower limbs, it is a bad sign that the condition is getting critical.
Is it a lack of information in China’s rural areas about cleanliness and HFMD prevention that is causing the rapid rise of cases, or is it there a mutation on the virus or other reason for the increase? We are yet to find out.