Friday, April 27, 2007

Hand Foot and Mouth

There's been so much (unnecessary) worry about cats affecting children's health - but look at what has really been affecting children's health :-

688 cases of Hand Foot and Mouth Recorded Last Week

Singapore hasn't seen end of Hand Foot and Mouth Outbreak

If there were 688 cases of any disease in one week related to cats, you can bet there would be a mass killing.



Blogger VeganCatsg said...

I too wonder why cats always ended up "witch-hunted". Even any suspicion that cats are responsible for some illnesses of human, they are holocausted!
But look what is really killing our species===> cars! overindulgent lifestyle leading to younger and younger people getting heart attacks and cancer. Pollution-related disease. Stress-related disease. Why are cats so scary! and why are we so scared of cats??

27/4/07 11:53 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Also, a different view of 'cleanliness' and Singapore:

27/4/07 11:45 PM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

I have to wonder though, indeed what would the CWS's policy prescription be, if indeed 688 potentially fatal diseases among kids were related provably to cats rather than to childcare centres?

it is pretty clear what the policy would be of this efficiently running city government machinery.

and it might help the CWS to have a contingency plan in place to put into operation immediately were anything like that to happen (perhaps a temporary housing of hundreds of street cats in various volunteers' homes until the panic subsides).

but in general, the question of animal v/s human concerns is not an easy one.

as of course, one animal species versus another species. Can one be concerned that 13K cats are being killed each year, and yet continue to feed chicken bred and killed on some oppressive chicken farm to save the street cats from thbe hassle of hunting down their own prey in the wild streets of the city? Do chicken not have rights to a free life too? and tuna fish?

28/4/07 9:28 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ramarama,I don't think that housing the cats is a solution. Many people did the same thing during SARS in a panic and now years later still have houses full of cats - and new cats moved into the territories almost immediately due to the vacuum effect (for one woman, overnight).

What I would suggest is behaving sensibly. Why is it that childcare centres aren't all being closed? Or that all children are not being quarantined even though 688 children are sick? Because on a balance of issues, it would be too inconvenient for parents and their children, and that the risk is stil relatively small. Should the situation really escalate, I am sure that the same rationale - ie behaving sensibly and maintaining hygiene will be used.

I actually think this is a very commendable way of dealing with the situation - instead of panicking.

28/4/07 10:12 AM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

well, that can work because these are little humans who can be monitored, whose symptoms can be measured, etc. and because these kids go back to parents' homes and we can expect the parents to be responsible parents and not lead to the disease spreading. and to be punished or at least chastised if they did behave irresponsibly. I do know some parents who have pre-emptively stopped sending their kids to play school.

can that really work with animals that have no parents? and no home?

i don't how much protest there was in all the cities in which they murdered thousands of birds because of the bird flu scare. And i don't think there will be widespread protests here if indeed there is legitimate suspicion that cats may be carriers. All i am suggesting is that perhaps the CWS should have some backup plan - what exactly would "behaving sensibly" mean if indeed there was legit proof of cats carrying the disease to humans, to feeders, et al.? For you do know that official response in Singapore can be very very swift and pragmatic, and many many patient hours of trapping and sterilizing can go to waste overnight.

28/4/07 2:47 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ramarama - the cats similarly have caregivers who look after them and will monitor them for any potential health scare IF one should crop up. In the US in fact, vets and pet owners have been asked to be early detection warnings.

As for whether parents will be punished for sending their children to school, I highly doubt that will happen. After all, who is going to further punish a parent whose child is ill? Nor were SARS spreaders 'punished' - it's a disease and to punish people for being sick just seems rather cruel.

28/4/07 5:50 PM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

That's great then if you think the eventuality can be well managed within the CWS's current infrastructure of voluntary feeders/observers.

My memory is that the Government did go to extraordinary lengths to maintain the quarantine on those who were suspected as having contact with the SARS virus with cameras, phone call checks, surprise visits etc. And there surely was some penalty for quarantine violators. Not for the initial spreaders who did so out of ignorance of the disease. And SARS at least had a very visible symptom; it is unclear if other diseases would be as manageable.

Given the trigger/injection-happy nature of so many officials described on your blog, it is highly doubtful that such sort of surveillance will be invested in, if human lives are at stake and someone thinks it easier and a longer term solution to just kill - regardless of any arguments about the vacuum effect. And the mass killing of many birds during bird flu epidemics (not sure if that happened in Singapore too?) around Asia should give you some sense of what is to be expected. These birds did have interested owners who stood to gain economically by not killing, but yet the killing went on.

BTW, does anyone know if the vacuum effect holds only for cats, or for other city non-humans such as rats? lizards? roaches? is there some humane way for all city dwellers of all species to be so protected?

28/4/07 6:18 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

BTW ramarama, just to clarify - children are not catching it from childcare CENTRES but from other children. Therefore while keeping your child at home would help to minimise the risk (and apparently even this is debatable), the only way to prevent your child from ever catching is to ensure that they do not see another child - or even adults who may catch it.

28/4/07 6:19 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ramarama, of course I am sure that there may be better solutions on how to handle the situation and we would welcome them. However I don't think taking cats off the streets is one of them. If you point to SARS as an example, the same thing WAS tried by caregivers then and failed.

Instead of expecting the worst of the authorities though, I'd like to think we should be prepared but also expecting better. This is what we should expect of our authorities.

At the end of it, did all the measures during SARS put a stop to it? I don't think so - the disease just died out on its own.

Also it's difficult to speculate about potential diseases that may or may not happen and which may or may not have different symptoms. Speaking in hypotheticals isn't very helpful.

Let's focus on something concrete - sterilisation, which brings down the population of cats which will benefit everyone.

28/4/07 7:03 PM  
Blogger Profpig ^@^ said...

In schools, they also do very stringent checks on children who have mouth ulcers and any child showing signs of sickness will be sent home. No choice but do that cos HFMD spreads like wild fire. Any parent with a child who shows signs of extreme growth of blisters or ulcer should just take the child to a doc.

Cats are not responsible:)

Human, especially irresponsible ones, yes.

28/4/07 9:52 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28/4/07 11:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Well Profpig, that's why community cats have caregivers - who serve the same function basically :)

Even with screening, cases may slip through. In the case of Hand foot and mouth, some people don't even have symptoms apparently (especially adults).

The main thing is the same response - maintain hygiene and make sure to wash hands frequently. This is good practice in every situation.

At the end of the day, my point is this - Hand Foot and Mouth cannot be prevented. The authorities are however dealing with it sensibly and reasonably even though this is a disease which is certainly affecting quite a large number of people. All we can do in any case is minimise the disease and most importantly, not panic.

I hope that if at some point any disease (touch wood) would somehow have an animal 'connection', that the same sense of proportion will prevail.

28/4/07 11:13 PM  

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