Doctors say girl's death was caused by HFMD
The Public Health Ministry has confirmed that a two-year-old girl did die of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) last week.
The toddler's death became the first HFMD fatality in Thailand this year, said Disease Control Department adviser Prasert Thongcharoen.
Speaking after a ministry virologists' meeting yesterday, Dr Prasert said they had concluded that the enterovirus 71 (EV71) caused the toddler's death.
Lab tests showed the virus was from the B5 sub-genogroup which is a non-virulent type but the patient developed severe symptoms, he said.
The first round of laboratory tests on faeces and spinal fluid samples taken from the girl turned up negative for EV71. The tests were conducted despite the fact that the toddler did not have common HFMD symptoms such as ulcers in the mouth and blisters on her hands and feet.
A second lab test of samples taken from the throat of the girl showed she had the EV71-B5 strain, said Dr Prasert.
The girl had chronic asthma and fell ill with a fever and had difficulty in breathing on July 12, said Dr Prasert.
"Don't focus om the type of viral strain. All of the strains can cause death, depending on various factors," he said.
The girl had asthma which aggravated her condition, he added.
The girl was admitted to Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital where she was later diagnosed with respiratory failure and heart muscle inflammation, said the doctor.
The lesson from this deadly case of HFMD, Dr Prasert said, is that parents should take their children to a doctor promptly if the children have a high fever lasting longer than 48 hours.
Another fatal case involving EV71 has become a major talking point among virus experts.
A 16-year-old boy in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district was admitted to a local hospital on July 3 with a high fever, vomiting, chest pains, and saliva bubbling from his mouth.
Again, he did not have blisters on his hands or the feet.
He was later found to have died of meningitis, not from HFMD despite the fact that his meningitis originated with the EV71 infection, said Dr Prasert.
The case is a warning that healthy older people could be at risk from EV71 especially those with brain and lung conditions, said Prof Theerawat Hemajutha of Chulalongkorn University's faculty of medicine.
The death of a three-year-old girl in Lop Buri's Khok Samrong district is also suspected to have been a result of HFMD but this case has yet to be confirmed, said Dr Prasert.
Meanwhile, it remained unclear where the two-year-old girl caught the virus that killed her, said Dr Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, the DDC's director-general.
The department's disease investigation team know only that before she fell ill, the girl had travelled in a school van with her grandfather who was the driver and 12 other students, said Dr Pornthep.
But none of the other 12 children had fallen sick, and neither did any of their family members, the doctor added.
25 July 2012