27 May 2010

CNMI's hand-foot-mouth outbreak highlights lack of lab facilities

1:35 pm on 27 May 2010

The medical director of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas' department of public health says an outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease is highlighting again a lack of laboratory resources.

The department is warning parents to keep sick children at home and schools to enforce strict handwashing procedures following the clinical diagnosis of the disease in 20 Saipan children aged between two and eight.

The department's awaiting laboratory confirmation of the disease, which causes fever and blisters or sores and can result in severe illness.

Dr Richard Brostrom says getting samples lab tested can be difficult and expensive.

"The medical mantra to the airlines is clearly the person coughing in seat 3A is much more of a hazard than the labs that have been packed and double packed and sealed in aluminium containers and are being shipped underneath the belly of the plane."

Dr Richard Brostrom in the CNMI