Tuesday, July 10, 2012

WHO Diagnoses the Cambodia Disease

With the Avian Influenza (bird flu) creating so much terror and havoc throughout Asia just half a decade ago, and even recurring every now and then in India and Indonesia, another mysterious affliction comes to the fore within the region. Initially termed as the “Cambodia disease”, the World Health Organization (WHO) had finally traced the endemic to the Enterovirus 71, a germ that characterizes the effect of hand foot and mouth disease. To date, more than 60 children have become fatal victims to this infirmity.

The Enterovirus 71 causes blisters to appear on the hands and foot of the afflicted person and mostly occurs to children below 7 years of age.

The usual symptom is the onset of high fever that it was initially observed to be in close affiliation with the bird flu virus. Further laboratory test made by WHO personnel however had revealed that the viral infection had caused hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) on the victims.

According to the WHO website:

The disease usually begins with fever, poor appetite, malaise, and frequently with a sore throat. One or two days after fever onset, painful sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks. A non-itchy skin rash develops over 1-2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia. A person with HFMD may not have symptoms, or may have only the rash or only mouth ulcers. In a small number of cases, children may experience a brief febrile illness, present with mixed neurological and respiratory symptoms and succumb rapidly from the disease.

While HFMD is generally accepted to be common among children, the strain of Eneterovirus however proves to be fatal if the onset of symptoms is not arrested at the earliest stage possible, as  it leads to neurological complications, affecting and infecting the brain, leading to death and fatalities such as what happened in Cambodia.

Just like HFMD, the Enterovirus 71 affliction is highly contagious. Infection is spread through person to person by direct contact with nose or throat discharges. The liquid coming from the ulcerated blisters are often most contagious.

Presently, there is no specific treatment known to resolve HFMD cases. Patients are advised to to drink plenty of water and/or other liquids and to avoid the use of any steroids.

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