Deadly Enterovirus 71 strain found in 2-year-old girl who died last week, hospital admits
The deadly Enterovirus 71 has been found in the throat of a two-year-old who died at a Bangkok hospital last week although the child had no symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).Dr Passakorn Chaiwanich, director of Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital, where the girl died, said yesterday that doctors found the deadly virus - responsible for the death of dozens of Cambodian children recently - in the Thai girl's throat but no symptoms had been recognised. He said that the virus attacked the victim's lungs, brain and heart.
Permanent Secretary for Health Paijit Warachit had said on Thursday that the girl's death, on that same day, was not caused by the HFMD contagion.
Passakorn said that the hospital and Public Health Ministry did not intend to conceal the truth, as the hospital's initial check did not find the virus. It was later found that Enterovirus 71 attacked the victim's lungs, brain and heart.
"Also, we found Enterovirus 71 four or five years ago that killed a patient. Normally, 10 per cent of people infected with this kind of virus succumb to the disease as it can spread to many physical systems in the patients quickly," he said.
However, the Public Health Ministry has not confirmed that she died from HFMD. Dr Paijit said the lab test result of the hospital showing the exact cause of the girl's death would be handed to the ministry, then it would be considered by a committee of virus experts next week to finally conclude if she died from HFMD. The consideration would be based on epidemiology, clinical symptoms and the lab-test result.
In related news, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials are closely monitoring the HFMD outbreak. It has issued five measures to prevent the spread of the disease, including checking all children's health before they enter nurseries, schools and amusement parks in shopping malls in "risky areas".
It plans to separate patients suspected of being infected with HFMD for seven days, to clean toys, utensils and places, give out information on how to prevent the disease being spread to relevant officers, parents and people, as well as give treatments to HFMD patients according to the ministry's guidelines.
In Kanchanaburi, four more children have been found with HFMD. So far, 338 people in this province have caught the disease.
Officials in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district have strictly screened Cambodian children travelling through the Chong Sangam border crossing point with their parents to see if they have the disease.
With Cambodia having closed primary schools and kindergartens for two months to stop the spread of HFMD, more Cambodian children have accompanied their parents who cross the border to Thailand.
Authorities at the four border checkpoints in Sa Kaeo province have been seriously checking Cambodian children. Any found with the flu have been refused entry into Thailand until a hospital in Cambodia issues a document guaranteeing that they have not got HFMD. They are also providing hand gel for all Cambodians to clean their hands before entering Thailand.
So far, the authorities have not found Enterovirus 71 infection among any such children.