Two virus strains likely behind HFMD reinfection cases in Mumbai, says study
3,000 cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) were reported in Mumbai since June this year, compared to 500 last year.Updated: Nov 20, 2018 00:47 IST
A preliminary study has shown that the presence of two strains in the virus that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) may be the reason that many children get reinfected with the disease even after treatment. The study, conducted by doctors at the Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, said that two virus strains were circulating this year.
An unprecedented number of HFMD cases were reported in the city this year, following which doctors decided to find out why so many children were getting reinfected within a few weeks. “This year, we saw the highest number of cases. Moreover, children were getting reinfected within three weeks,” said Dr Dhanya Dharmapalan, consultant in paediatric infectious diseases, Apollo Hospital, who conducted the study.
Doctors from Surya Hospital, Santacruz said they saw over 3,000 cases since June this year, compared to 500 cases during the same period last year. However, there is no official figure as HFMD is not a notifiable disease.
“The recurrences could have occurred because of repeat infection by another strain or the absence of immunity to the virus,” said Dr Dharmapalan. The infection causes a painful reddish blister in the mouth, hands, feet and thighs in children below 10 years of age. It may also cause fever and sore throat. A new trend that was seen for the first this year was that the patients also developed lesions on their back, said Dr Dharmapalan.
Doctors sent 15 stool samples of infected children to the government’s National Institute of Virology, Mumbai centre and found this year, two virus strains – Coxsackie A6 and A16 – were co-circulating.
Dr Tanu Singhal, paediatric infectious disease specialist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Andheri, said that it is well-known that infections by multiple strains can lead to reinfections and increase frequency of cases. “Although I haven’t seen many cases of reinfection, the overall burden of the disease has increased and has become one of the most common childhood infections,” she said.
Dr Bhupendra Avasthi at Surya Hospital, said, “Private practitioners don’t call for tests as it is easily treatable and doesn’t lead to death. However, when we see so many cases in a year, it is always important to have a database to see which strains are infecting the children.”
First Published: Nov 20, 2018 00:35 IST