The Ministry of Health has noted an increase in the number of cases of ‘Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease’ (HFMD) over the past few weeks. ‘Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease’ (HFMD) is usually a mild illness caused by a germ called Coxsackie virus.
It commonly affects children under 5 years. However, it can affect older children and even adults. The early symptoms include: fever, sore throat and feeling of being unwell. After a day or two the child develops painful, red, blister-like lesions on tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks. A skin rash with red spots – and sometimes with blisters – may develop on the palms of hands, soles of feet, knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area. This illness is spread by person-to-person contact with an infected person via: (1) nasal secretions; (2) saliva; (3) fluid from blisters on skin; (4) stool; and (5) respiratory droplets after a cough or sneeze.
It often occurs in day care/ child care settings. The illness (HFMD) usually resolves on its own within 7 to 10 days. There is no specific cure or vaccine available for HFMD. Children who are not drinking or eating should be taken to their primary health care provider.
The following precautions can help reduce the risk of infection with ‘Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease’ (HFMD):
1. All persons, including children who are affected are contagious and should remain at home and isolated until the fever, mouth sores and blisters have resolved.
2. Show your children how to practice good hygiene by washing hands after wiping the face and mouth, and before and after using the toilet. Explain to them why it is important not to place fingers, hands or any other objects or toys in their mouths.
3. All teachers and care providers in day care centres should wash their hands thoroughly before and after using the toilet or changing a diaper, and before preparing food and eating.
4. Disinfect all common areas first with soap and water, followed by a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water. All day care centres should follow a strict schedule of cleaning and disinfecting all common areas, door handles and shared items such as toys.
5. At home: avoid kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups with a child or relative who has HFMD. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and soiled items including door handles and toys.
We can reduce the risk of spreading this contagious disease by frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with children or persons who are infected by HFMD. Let us curtail the spread of this disease by following these simple precautions.