Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Taiwanese researchers announced Tuesday that a new vaccine to combat Enterovirus 71 (EV 71), a virulent strain of the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in young children, is expected to be available next year.
"The EV 71 vaccine has entered the final phase of clinical trials," said National Taiwan University professor Huang Li-min (黃立民), who is also a member of the vaccine development program.
Individuals who receive three doses of the vaccine are 90 percent less likely to develop EV 71, Huang said.
According to Huang, it is recommended that the vaccine be administered to infants in three doses at two months, four months and 12 months.
The vaccine, once administered, protects children until the age of five, he said.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common infectious disease that occurs most often in children, the World Health Organization (WHO) website says, but can also occur in adolescents and occasionally in adults.
In most cases, the disease is mild and self limiting, with common symptoms that include fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on the hands, feet and buttocks, WHO says.
According to Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a total of 203 patients sought outpatient or emergency treatment at hospitals for EV 71 infection around Taiwan from January to July this year, the highest in three years.
EV71 virus is a neurological disease that attacks the nervous system and infants under the age of five are at higher risk of developing severe complications from this type of infection, CDC said.
Parents are advised to seek medical attention if their children develop a fever, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea, numbness or other symptoms related to enterovirus infection, the agency said.
Taiwan has been actively engaged in the research and development of an EV 71 vaccine since a severe outbreak that resulted in 78 fatalities in 1998.