DOH checking enterovirus strain on two kids

Posted at 07/18/12 3:26 PM

Victims doing OK, says Tayag

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday said that it’s unlikely that the two children recently found positive with enterovirus has the fatal strain similar to the one in Cambodia.
“Most likely it’s not EV-71 (enterovirus-71), but the laboratory should tell us that better,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag in an interview with Mornings@ANC.
Tayag said they are still waiting for the laboratory reports from the Research Institute for Tropical Medical (RITM), where the specimens from the two Filipino children have been submitted.
“We’re waiting for the results. The RITM told us that they're going to test them and it will take one or two days before they confirm. We hope they confirm it today because it’s causing anxiety,” said Tayag.
On Monday, the DoH reported two children have tested positive for enterovirus, which is linked to the hand, foot and mouth disease. Tayag declined to give the locations of the patients.
“We can't divulge the place yet until we get confirmation from the laboratory test. They were reported from a hospital and they may have been sent home, we are verifying the report now,” he said.
He added, “But we can say now the children did not have history of travel from any country from the past month. They are not from the same neighborhood and they are less than 8 and they are doing alright.”
Tayag said they are still checking if the strain found was EV-71, which was linked to the deaths of over 50 children in Cambodia.
“We have started our surveillance. We’re monitoring the diseases that are reported to us and we’re actually meeting several hospital directors here in Metro Manila to get reports from them and to share with them the information we have and preparations that can be done at this point,” he said.
EV-71: The new polio
The EV-71 is now seen as the new polio, he said
“Polio was the one causing the most fatal, among the family of enterorvirus but now we're on the verge of eradication, that's why we’re calling enterovirus-71 as the new polio,” he explained. “EV-71 has the potential to cause deaths and deadlier diseases compared to the others”.
He said EV-71 can cause several diseases, among them the hand-foot-mouth disease and fatal encephalitis. 
“But the family of enteroviruses also includes polio virus. It also includes the common colds virus. They reside in the human intestines. Therefore, we shed them in the feces and that's how it gets spread around," he said.
When asked if it’s normal for people to contract enterovirus, Tayag said, “We can say that. In fact, most children will have infections from the enterovirus before they reach the age of 5, their 5th birthday”. 
“The reason we reported this case is because we wanted hospitals to report any suspected case of hand-foot-mouth disease. This is also of course to also alert the public that the hand-foot-mouth disease doesn’t have to come from other countries because we have them except that we don’t have the fatal form of the disease,” he added.
Enterovirus is contagious and can spread via fecal-oral transmission or fluids from the blister or even from sneezes, coughs and saliva.
“It’s moderately contagious,” he said. 
As precaution, Tayag advised the public not to share utensils, to clean toys, and disinfect clothes worn by infected or sick children. M.A.Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com