This year, an abnormally high proportion of older children were diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease, which generally affects children under five.
Furthermore, the viral infection showed various symptoms and frequently recurred in a short time, both of which were unusual events. Experts think an epidemiological analysis is necessary in light of the HMFD ‘outbreak’ in the city this season.
During the last three months, paediatric clinics have seen a huge increase in instances of HFMD, a mild but infectious viral infection. As instances grew in July and August, some pre-schools and nursery schools had to be closed.
Dr Tanu Singhal, a paediatric infectious disease expert at Kokilaben Hospital, said the virus had been seen in children aged 11 to 18. What was more surprising to her was the recurrence of the infection in some youngsters just a month or two after the initial attack. “There should be an epidemiological study to figure out why we found these changes,” she says. Although the viral condition is self-limiting, in exceedingly rare situations, it can enter the brain and cause catastrophic problems such as encephalitis.”
Dr Rajan Unadkat, a paediatrician who consults with HN Reliance Hospital, stated that the disease’s presentation has changed, with rashes on the hands and feet and sometimes sores in the mouth.
This year, many young children had oral ulcers rather than rashes on their bodies.
“The parents couldn’t figure out what was bothering the child until we suspected and looked inside the baby’s mouth,” he explained. Dr Unadkat saw two cases of HFMD among siblings on Tuesday. The older brother was 15 at the time. Because they were exposed to the virus during their growing years, older children and adults are considered immune to the disease. Dr Singhal stated that the mother of an affected child contracted the infection at their hospital.
The severity of the presentation, according to paediatrician Dr Vijay Yewale, also merits discussion. He recalled a child who had extensive blisters all over his upper body. “The rashes are usually limited to the elbow, knee, and buttocks, but many kids came in with a widespread,” he explained. He described the infections as perplexing, saying, “One explanation could be that infection with one virus or strain does not protect all others.”
According to Dr Bhupendra Awasthi, virological studies could provide answers. “Parents should be aware not to rush their children back to school until they have completely recovered, which could take up to a week,” he said. However, no hospitalizations or critical cases were reported.