Vietnam is observing an `alarming rise` in mortality from a common childhood virus, which has killed 11 babies and infants and caused illness to over 15,000 others, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.
In the first three months of 2012 the infection rate of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) was seven times higher than the same period last year, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.
"It is vital that this disease be brought under control as its victims -- small children -- are some of the most vulnerable," IFRC Vietnam representative, Bhupinder Tomar, said in a statement.
There is no specific treatment for the common disease, which typically causes little more than a fever and rash, but the risk of catching it is greatly reduced through good hygiene practices. No vaccine exists.
"The Red Cross is seeking help from international donors to stem the alarming rise in deaths among babies and pre-schoolers from Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease," the statement said.
It said more than $840,000 were needed for a new campaign to raise awareness of the importance of hand washing and covering mouths when coughing or sneezing.
"Proper hygiene practices prevent a whole range of communicable diseases, so there could be untold long-term benefits to families," Tomar said.
Vietnam's health ministry has previously urged provincial governments to fight the disease by improving hygiene in nursery schools.