Outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in the island
Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
THERE IS an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in the island with most cases reported in the Corporate Area.
According to Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller, chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, up to 25 cases have been reported as at Wednesday, 22 of which are in the Kingston and St Andrew area with the other three cases reported in a third parish.
The CMO, however, refused to disclose the parish in which the other cases have been detected, indicating that she is trying to avoid panic.
Dr Lewis-Fuller was quick to point out that there could be more HFMD in the island as not all cases would be manifested with the common symptoms of rash, sore throat and fever.
HFMD is a human syndrome caused by intestinal viruses. It usually affects infants and children, and is contagious.
"The cases have been reported from various schools, mainly early childhood institutions, which are mainly centred in Kingston and St Andrew. If there is an outbreak in a school, then they should avoid shaking hands, close contact, hugging and kissing, and the children who have the disease should stay at home, but there is no need to close the school," she explained.
According to Lewis-Fuller, the disease is not serious as the illness is typically mild.
She advised that persons should take the necessary precautions to prevent a spread of the illness.
Children who are affected by the illness would recover within seven to 10 days.
She said the ministry's approach is to focus on the preventative method, as there is no vaccine available for the illness.
The HFMD can be spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva or faeces of an infected person.
Lewis-Fuller said HFMD is not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which affects sheep, cattle and swine.
Symptoms of the illness are:
- Few days of fever
- Sore mouth
- Sore throat
- Rash or blister on the palm of the hand, soles of the feet and/or buttocks
- In some cases, they will have vomiting, diarrhoea and poor appetite.
Parents are being advised to:
- Wash hands frequently
- Properly clean objects such as toys
- Clean floor and doorknob with bleach solution.