COTABATO CITY - A health official in Kidapawan City has raised the alarm over the highly contagious Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) after 48 cases were recorded in the area last month alone.
"In 2022, we only monitored about 21 cases but in January alone this year, there were 48 cases in the city's 40 villages," Dr. Jose Martin M. Evangelista, chief of the Kidapawan Health Office - Pediatric Section, said in a statement Thursday.
"This could be under-reported, and we expect the number to rise when all cases are reported," he added.
Evangelista said he noticed that most parents whose children have confirmed to have the virus were unaware of it.
"There could be more cases because we believed parents were not aware that HFMD has affected their children," he said, adding that the virus usually hit children 5-year-old and below.
Evangelista said efforts from the city health office and the local government are underway to contain the outbreak of the disease.
"The HFMD is very contagious, especially during the first week of illness," Evangelista said.
He noted that the hardest-hit HFMD villages in Kidapawan included the Poblacion, Singao, Magsaysay, Macebolig, Amas, Perez, Lanao and Indangan.
In Banga, South Cotabato HFMD has downed 51 children but health officials said the spread of the disease had been contained.
The illness is transmitted via respiratory secretions like coughs, sneezing of patients and close contact with HFMD patients, or sharing of kitchen utensils. (PNA)