School outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in Northern Luzon, Philippines, October 2022
Hand, foot and mouth disease, Pangasinan, October 2022
Keywords:hand, foot and mouth disease, disease outbreaks, Philippines
Objective: On 24 September 2022, the Regional Public Health Unit in Ilocos received a report of a cluster of suspected hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in one school in Balungao, Pangasinan Province, the Philippines. On 4 October 2022, the public health unit sent a team from the Field Epidemiology Training Program – Intermediate Course to conduct an outbreak investigation.
Methods: Active case-finding was conducted at the school. A suspected case was defined as any student or staff member with mouth ulcers and papulovesicular or maculopapular rash on the palms, fingers, soles of the feet or buttocks occurring from 1 September to 5 October 2022. We interviewed school officials about possible sources of infection and students’ activities. We collected oropharyngeal swab samples for testing. Findings were used for descriptive analysis.
Results: Nine suspected cases of HFMD were detected, with the highest number of cases (6, 67%) occurring in children in grade 1. The majority of cases (7, 78%) were 6 years old, and five cases (56%) were male. Seven (78%) of the cases had been exposed to a confirmed case of HFMD, as reported by their parents or guardians and teachers. Six cases (67%) were positive for coxsackievirus A16 and two (22%) for enterovirus.
Discussion: The causative agents of this outbreak were coxsackievirus A16 and other enteroviruses. Direct contact with a confirmed case was the source of transmission, with a lack of physical distancing in classrooms likely contributing to transmission. We recommended that the local government implement measures to control the outbreak.