Tjandra Yoga Aditama: (Antara/Fanny Octavianus)
The Indonesian Health Ministry is currently operating under a heightened state of vigilance to monitor the recent development of a mysterious disease that reportedly has killed more than 50 children in Cambodia since April.
The Health Ministry’s director general for disease control and environmental health, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said Monday that his ministry had been corresponding with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cambodian Health Ministry to gather information about the disease’s symptoms, and determine whether or not the disease might spread to other countries.
“Currently, the Cambodian Health Ministry and the WHO have yet to collect all the data [needed]. Therefore, we can only refer to the disease as an undiagnosed syndrome and a neuro-respiratory syndrome,” Tjandra said as quoted by Antara news agency.
The Cambodian Health Ministry recorded that among the infected children, 59 were between 3 months old and 11 years old and 52 were under the age of 5.
“Our laboratory sample is incomplete since most children died before they received treatment. But, some who received treatment show that they were infected by Enterovirus EV-71,” Tjandra said.
The EV-71 is a virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). It causes severe complications and death among some patients. HFMD is a common infectious disease among infants and children.
People who are infected with EV-71 may have symptoms such as fever, painful sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters on the hands, feet and buttocks.
Other samples, Tjandra added, showed that the children had dengue and Streptococcus suis. Yet, the samples tested negative for H5N1 virus, other influenza viruses, SARS virus and Nipah virus.
Even though the disease has claimed dozens of lives, the WHO has yet to issue a travel warning for Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the ministry stated that it would keep its eyes open and be on the lookout for similar disease outbreaks in Indonesia.
“I have issued a letter to heads of health agencies and heads of health posts at ports all across the country to watch over their areas for the emergence of such disease,” Tjandra said. (riz)