June 5, 2009

Hand, foot and mouth reported in S. Korea

Hand, foot and mouth disease has killed one baby in South Korea and left another brain dead, health authorities said Friday.

One 12-month-old baby died from the disease May 13 and a second 12-month-old has been diagnosed as brain dead after being hospitalized late last month, the nation's Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs said.

Both babies were infected with enterovirus 71, also known as EV71, which causes vomiting, fever and rashes and can result in paralysis and meningitis, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.

The moderately contagious virus is most common among infants and children, but rarely is fatal, ministry officials said. The virus, which is rare in adults, is spread by contact with mucus, saliva or the feces of an infected person and usually occurs in nursery schools or kindergartens, Yonhap said.

Hand, foot and mouth disease, which sickens humans, is not the same as foot-and-mouth disease, also called hoof-and-mouth disease, which sickens sheep, cattle and pigs.

Health authorities in South Korea did not publicly say where the children lived or where they were reported sick.