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Insidious infection

Little Chheng Y has a fever and is breathing heavily when her mother brings her to the hospital in Siem Reap. A rash is spreading across the girl's hands and the soles of her feet, and small blisters are forming in her mouth. After an initial medical examination, it quickly becomes clear that the two-year-old has contracted hand foot and mouth disease.

This disease is found all over the world, is caused by viruses and is mainly passed from child to child through droplet infection, for example when sneezing or coughing. It is usually mild and resolves without major complications. There is no treatment or even vaccine; treatment can only relieve symptoms such as itching or pain.

However, there are also pathogens that are more aggressive and lead to a more severe course of the disease. These viruses are particularly dangerous for very young children and can even lead to neurological damage. Chheng Y is now on oxygen in the intensive care unit - with a bit of luck she will be able to recover.

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