KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — The recent surge in hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMB) may have resulted in the first recent fatality, with the Health Ministry disclosing that a toddler in Sarawak is suspected to have died from the illness.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the boy, 2, died today of suspected HFMD infection in Kampung Pangtray within the Daro district of Sarawak’s Mukah division.

“He first experienced fever on July 24 and began showing symptoms such as rashes on his palms and soles as well as mouth ulcers on July 25,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

The boy was rushed to the Daro health clinic the same day and diagnosed with possible HFMD, and was referred to Hospital Daro’s trauma unit where he eventually died from severe pneumonia likely caused by the initial illness.

 Dr Noor Hisham said samples have been sent for further testing to confirm the cause of death and suspected infection.

An apparent outbreak of HFMD has swept the country this year, with Dr Noor Hisham disclosing on Tuesday that nearly 36,000 cases were detected from January until then.

The disease has forced the closure of 449 premises across the country including 217 nurseries, 223 preschools, and classes at 27 schools.

The rapidity of the spread also prompted the Health Ministry to put several states on the alert threshold.

HFMD is caused by viral infections of the Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) strains and is spread through saliva, blisters and faeces of the infected.

Symptoms of the disease included fever, rashes or blisters on the palms and feet, ulcers in the mouth and tongue, and death in the worst case. The Malaymail online

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