Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease in Singapore - one week late

So the MOH alarm system has finally kicked in because the number of cases have soared and are just 12 short of numbers that would qualify it as an epidemic. This response is about a week late, I think. Last week the numbers were already in excess of the levels technically required to sound the alarm.

This is not just mindless rantings against a government agency. Simply, if we want to manage an epidemic, there must be early warning systems in place. The earlier you activate the warning, the more likely you will be able to manage the impending epidemic. That's what the threshhold triggers are there for. If you don't want to act when the trigger is actuated then what's the point of having the warning system?

Secondly if you seriously want to manage an epidemic you need to put in place other social and miscellaneous support sytems that will allow people to help you limit the infectivity of the disease. To my simple thinking, these would include:

a] giving the public guidelines as to what might be considered standard early diagnostic critera to act upon. By the time a child has blisters everywhere, he has already spread the infection.
b] giving the public some reasonable options should they suspect the child has HFMD. Currently most parents are loathe to consider that possibility because they have little option but to continue to send the child to school/care centre.
c] decent hospitable and friendly places where you can temporarily quarantine the infected kids, so that they don't spread the infection at home.

I know that even I, though reasonably knowledgeable about the problem, find it very difficult to figure out what to do in the event my child break outs. Can I? Should I? How?

The MOH should assist the public in formulating a proper action plan so that we can nip the epidemic early rather than keep wringing our hands every year as we watch the figures rise.


Quick said...

My name is Terence, a Industrial Hygienist, we maintain hygiene levels to offices, childcare centers..etc and are the worldwide distributors of ECO-VERDE range of products / services.

We have realised that the teachers of these childcare center unknowingly help spread the HFMD infection,
let me explain... Every day when the children first enter these centers, the teachers will check the child's hands, feet, mouth, tongues and take their temperature, and then go on to the next child... Now, can you imagine what would happen, if the first child has early stages of HFMD, it will certainly infect the second child and so on... We have a solution to this problem...
Contact me at
Thank you
Terence Yap
Eco-Verde Pte Ltd.

You may re send this comment in this full context.

gigamole said...

I think I know where you are coming from....yeah, it would be good if there were procedures to minimize spread of infection. Perhaps you should approach the centres directly.

Quick said...

We are approaching these centers directly, another thing i would like to share is:
Most of these centers / kindergartens do not know what chemicals their disinfection contractors are using (Is it soap + water?), they also don't know how "clean" it is after work is done, cause most contractors do not test the air / surfaces with a third party lab.

"Maintaining a good hygiene level is everyone's responsibility"

Thank you and keep up the good work...