KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysian states recorded an increase in the number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases, said the director of the health ministry's disease control division Chong Chee Keong on Tuesday (Jul 10).
While he did not give any further details, Dr Chong's announcement came after Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said on Monday that the number of children infected by HFMD in the state of Penang hit 1,616 since the beginning of the year. This was a 48 per cent increase from the previous year over the same period.
Children's toys have been identified as one of the main causes for the spread of the disease in Malaysia, Dr Chong warned.
Toys which children hold and play with can transmit the virus to others, he told reporters at an event in Kuala Lumpur.
"Mothers and kindergarten management must clean the toys, toilets and napkins which are infected and can spread the virus easily.
"And of course inside the house itself. Children will play together and there will be a transmission from one child to another so we advise mothers to separate the children ... I know it is not easy because children tend to play together," Dr Chong added.
Ten early childhood education centres in Penang were ordered to close for 10 days as the state took efforts to tackle the rise in HFMD cases.
Penang Health Director Wan Mansor Hamzah said five of the centres were in George Town and the other five were in Butterworth.
HFMD is a contagious disease caused by viruses, in particular the Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) which are spread by contact with saliva, blisters or faeces.
The symptoms of infection include fever, rash (maculopapular and vesicles) in the palms, feet and ulcers in the mouth and tongue, as well as symptoms and signs of upper respiratory tract infection.