PHNOM PENH, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia closed all kindergartens and primary schools across the country on Wednesday in fear of the spread of newly diagnosed Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), a senior education official said Wednesday.
"With the approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education decided to shut down both private and state-owned children schools throughout the country earlier than the annual vacation schedule," Mak Van, secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, told Xinhua over telephone.
The closure decision was made after teachers and parents expressed concerns over the disease, he said.
Generally, the pupils will be allowed to take an annual vacation from the end of July to October, but this year, because of the spread of EV-71, the holiday is allowed earlier than the schedule, he said.
According to Mak Van, the country has 2,575 pre-schools with 121,300 pupils and 6,849 primary schools with 2.14 million pupils.
The country has been plagued with Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes hand, foot and mouth disease, since April. The severe form of HFMD has killed at least 54 Cambodian children since then, according to a joint statement from Cambodia's Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization on July 12.
HFMD virus is contagious and infection in spread from person to person by direct contact with nose or throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.
Good hygiene practice can prevent HFMD. Presently, there is no specific treatment available for HFMD, said the joint statement. Parents should seek medical advice if their children develop high fever, vomiting, lethargy and limb weakness.