Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Ravages Guangdong

May 7, 2010 Updated: May 8, 2010

About 30,000 people have contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth (HFMD) disease in Guangdong Province this year. Statistics from the Health Department show Guangdong with the highest infection rate nationally, and forecasts predict a surge of infections in May.

Doctors and nurses say the number of patients has increased dramatically, and the symptoms are often serious.

The Children’s Hospital in Guangdong’s capital of Guangzhou has already begun its ‘Second Level Prevention’ campaign to combat the disease. Many infected children are sent to this hospital for treatment. Doctors working in the ward for contagious diseases have been too busy to answer phone calls.

A nurse who spoke to Sound Of Hope said that child patients sent to the hospital often have serious symptoms and their illnesses develop quickly. She said, “There is a severe shortage of hospital beds. The room is huge, and the patients are numerous. All child patients in Guangdong are sent to our hospital. Just imagine how many there will be!”

The situation in Dongguan is among the worst in the province. According to the Center for Disease Control, all 32 townships in the city had seen cases of HFMD by early April. From January to March there had been over 5,000 victims, a stark contrast to the nine infections during the same period last year. Among the 5,000, there have been four deaths, and 45 are in a serious condition.

A nurse from the Women and Children’s Hospital in Dongguan said, “This year’s outbreak is more severe than in previous years. The symptoms change swiftly. Although there are few deaths, the number of critical cases is much higher than in previous years.”

A nurse from the monitoring room for critical patients at Taiping Hospital in Dongguan said, “The number of patients is huge; however, only severely ill patients are sent here. I am currently taking care of 12 patients. Children develop symptoms relatively quickly, and the situation worsens very quickly.”

Another staff member at the Center for Disease Control believes the outbreak of the disease is caused by the huge number of migrant workers. He said, “There are many migrant workers, and they keep moving from one place to another. Most of the patients are from migrant families, especially contract workers. Their living conditions and hygiene are poor. Therefore, the disease spreads quickly.”

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