Singapore Flu: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Singapore flu is a disease caused by a viral infection of the genus Enterovirus, but the most common is coxsackievirus. This disease is classified as highly contagious from person to person through direct contact with hands.

In medical terms, this disease is known as hand-foot-and-mouth disease (diseases of the hands, feet, and mouth) can occur at any age, but more often affects children under the age of 5 years. This disease has symptoms that are characterized by canker sores in the mouth and watery nodules on the hands and feet.

Singapore Flu Symptoms

Symptoms begin to appear or develop around three to seven days after the start of the infection, known as the incubation period.

In general, here are some of the symptoms of Singapore flu:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easily angry and fussy to babies or toddlers
  • Sore throat
  • Feel unwell
  • Thrush that feels painful on the tongue, gums and the inside of the cheeks that turn red and shiny
  • Red rashes on the palms, soles and sometimes buttocks

Fever is usually the first sign, followed by sore throat, painful swallowing, canker sores, and sometimes weakness and loss of appetite.

The first and second day after the fever occurs, the child will experience severe inflammation in the throat and oral mucosa. In addition to the hands, feet and buttocks, reddish nodules can also appear on the folds of the thighs, elbows and knees, which can occur one to two days later.

Redness on the skin begins with flat red spots, which later turn into shiny colors that appear in one to two days. Redness that appears on the palms and soles of the feet usually does not feel itchy.

When to see a doctor?

Singapore flu is a mild illness that does not require specific treatment, and usually only causes fever for a few days and the symptoms will disappear in two weeks.

However, if mouth sores or sore throats make it difficult for children to eat and drink, Singapore flu symptoms do not go away after a few days, or get worse, go to the doctor immediately to get the right treatment.

Causes of Singapore Flu

This disease is most often caused by the coxsackievirus A16 virus, but sometimes it can also be caused by enterovirus 71. The virus lives in nasal and throat fluids, saliva, feces, and fluid in skin rashes, and is very easily transmitted to others through direct contact.

Singapore flu is transmitted through contaminated air in the following ways:

  • Sputter
  • Sneezing
  • Cough

The spread of Singaporean flu is also transmitted through the following methods:

  • Touching objects contaminated with coxsackievirus virus, which may enter through the mouth
  • Touching the skin rash liquid from people infected with this type of flu
  • Touch the fecal-contaminated surface

If the child has been affected by this disease, then the immune system will be able to fight the virus attack later on. However, this does not guarantee that a child can not catch Singapore flu again. That’s because enteroviruses with different strains can develop later in life.

Singapore Flu Risk Factors

Young children are at high risk of developing Singapore flu. Even the risk increases if you want to go to daycare or to school, because the virus can spread quickly in public places.

Children usually form the body’s immunity to disease after contracting the virus. This is why this disease rarely attacks children over the age of 10 years. However, it is not impossible for adults to get infections, especially if they have a weakened immune system.

Singapore Flu Diagnosis

Singapore flu can be diagnosed through symptoms experienced by sufferers so it does not require special examination. However, blood tests, feces, or throat swabs to ensure the presence or absence of the disease are sometimes needed.

A throat swab or stool specimen can be taken and sent to a laboratory to determine the virus that causes the disease. The following are some tests that can distinguish with other diseases, including:

1. Age of Sufferers

Singapore flu is most common in children under the age of 10 years.

2. Recognizing the Pattern of Symptoms

Singapore flu symptoms are initially characterized by fever and sore throat, followed by canker sores and spots in the mouth and then in the palms and soles of the feet.

3. Visible Wounds and Rashes

The rashes on the feet and hands appear reddish and are filled with fluid or blisters. While the sores on the mouth look like gray-yellow canker sores accompanied by reddish edges and feel pain.

Singapore Flu Treatment

This disease usually does not need treatment, because usually the infection will go away by itself within seven to 10 days.

Home treatment is enough to relieve symptoms, by providing plenty of drinking water to relieve sore throat.

Keep in mind, avoid foods that are acidic and spicy, because it can cause sores to get worse. Singapore flu medicines that can be given by doctors are painkillers and drugs to relieve fever.

To help reduce the discomfort caused by the Singapore flu, it is recommended to:

  • Make sure the child is getting enough rest and consuming lots of cold drinks to reduce pain in the throat. Drinking enough fluids, milk or juice is recommended to provide nutritional intake.
  • Take Singapore flu medicines such as painkillers (NSAIDS), paracetamol, or ibuprofen, if needed, but if the fever is not too high, there is no need to reduce fever.
  • Eat soft foods so as not to hurt inflammation in the mouth and throat.
  • Avoiding foods that are sour and fizzy.
  • Avoid spicy foods.
  • Wash your mouth with warm water after eating.
  • Always wash hands before and after eating or after defecation or urinating.

Singapore Flu Complications

The most common complication of Singapore flu is dehydration, because sores in the mouth and throat cause difficulty drinking and swallowing.

Although a mild disease, a rare and sometimes serious form of coxsackievirus can attack the brain and cause the following complications:

  • Meningitis

Is an infection of the membranes (meningen) and cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

  • Encephalitis

Is an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus. This disease is severe and potentially life threatening.

Singapore Flu Prevention

Singapore flu sufferers can easily transmit the virus in the first seven days. After the symptoms subside, the virus can still survive in the patient’s body for several days to several weeks, and can spread through feces or saliva. Some ways that can be done for prevention, including:

  • Avoid kissing children who are suffering from Singapore flu.
  • Teach children not to share eating or drinking utensils with others.
  • If infected, rest your child at home for a while until the condition is completely recovered. This is to prevent communicable diseases to other people.
  • Clean areas that are suspected of being contaminated with viruses (tableware, tables, clothing, and bed linen) using water and soap.
  • Familiarize children to maintain personal hygiene such as routine hand washing, especially after bowel movements. This is important because children under the age of 10 years are prone to contracting the disease.

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