- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2011

HANOI, VIETNAM (AP) - Vietnam says an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease has killed 156 people, mostly children, and sickened more than 96,000 through late November.

An official at the Ministry of Health says the average number of weekly cases dropped from about 3,000 in September to 2,460 in November.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert Monday urging people visiting Vietnam to protect themselves from the disease by practicing “healthy personal hygiene.”

This year’s outbreak is a sharp uptick from recent years. Since 2008, about 10,000 to 15,000 cases were reported per year with about 20 to 30 children dying annually.

The common childhood illness typically causes little more than a fever and rash, and most recover quickly.

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