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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in China - Travel Health Notice

Posted Jul 14 2010 12:00am

Travel Health Notice
China’s Ministry of Health has reported 987,779 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, including 15,501 severe cases and 537 deaths this year.

Officials have identified that the majority of the cases were caused by enterovirus 71, which is a more severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease that is commonly found in Canada.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. In Canada it is usually caused by coxsackie A viruses, which cause a less severe form of the disease than enterovirus 71. There is no vaccine available for this disease.

There is an increased risk of contracting hand, foot and mouth in countries with overcrowded conditions or in areas with poor sanitation. Therefore, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travellers practise good hygiene.

About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease


  • Can take an average of 3 to 5 days to appear.
  • They usually include fever, loss of appetite, sore throat, malaise, painful sores in the mouth, a rash with or without small blisters on the hands, feet and diaper area.
  • In rare severe cases, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), myocarditis (swelling of the heart tissue), paralysis and death can occur.

The disease is spread by coming into contact with nose and throat droplets, saliva, fluid from blisters and feces of an infected person.

Practise good hygiene:

1. Wash your hands often:

-Use soap under running water, especially after diaper changes or using the toilet.

-Alcohol-based hand gel can also be used if soap and water are not readily available - keep some with you in your pocket or purse.

2. Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette
-Cover your mouth and nose with your arm, not your hand, to reduce the spread of germs. If you do sneeze or cough in your hand, wash your hands immediately or use a hand sanitizer.

3. Keep shared items and surface areas clean:

-Clean doorknobs, toys, and other surfaces that many people, especially children, touch on a regular basis.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

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