Virus of hand, foot and mouth disease spreads in Malaysia: boy dies

An eight-month-old boy has died from hand, foot and mouth disease in eastern Malaysia, raising this year's death toll to seven, as the disease spreads to a second state, local media reported Tuesday.

The boy, who died Monday, was the latest victim in Sarawak state on Borneo island, where the number of cases this year reached 4,278, the Star newspaper said.

All fatalities have been children.

The paper also said 15 children had contracted the disease in the northern state of Kedah, the first time it has been reported outside of Sarawak, and quoted state health officials as urging parents to seek prompt medical treatment for sickened children.

"Parents should not give their children a herbal remedy or adopt a wait-and-see attitude," Kedah health committee chairman V. Saravanan was quoted as saying.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is mildly contagious and rarely fatal. It mainly strikes children below age 10 and is unrelated to the illness in cattle known as foot and mouth disease.

Enterovirus 71 is the most dangerous of several viruses that cause the disease, which has symptoms including sores, rashes and fever.

Sarawak state authorities have already shut all 488 kindergartens as well as 14 primary schools since early this month after a rise in infections. It was not immediately clear if schools in Kedah were ordered closed, reports the AP.

I.L.