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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The Ministry of Health said on Monday that it will continue to monitor and apprise the nation as “several cases” of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) were diagnosed among some pre-schoolers at “certain” Early Childhood Centres on mainland St. Vincent.

The Ministry did not say how many students were affected or in what parts of the country, but, in a statement from the Chief Medical Officer, encouraged parents and guardians of pre-schoolers to contact their healthcare provider for more information and advice.

The Ministry, however, noted that the disease detected among the nation’s children is not the same as Foot and Mouth Diseases that occurs in animals, namely cattle, sheep, and while.

“There is no relationship between these two diseases. Foot and Mouth Disease is not transmitted from animals to humans,” said the statement, which further stated, “We take this opportunity to reassure citizens that this is by and large a benign viral illness which does not cause significant morbidity or mortality and must not be confused with Foot and Mouth Disease of animals.

HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults, according to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control.

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According to the Ministry of Health statement, while health officials here do not conduct routine surveillance for HFMD because of it “limited public health significance”, reports from medical practitioners and a “limited number” of Early Childhood Centres indicate that there has been “some increased incidence” of illness due to the disease.

“The virus which causes HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with an infective virus, the Ministry said.

“In children who are ill, the virus is found in nose and throat secretions, infected blisters which may appear on the food, hand, and mouth, and also in stool,” according to the statement.

The illness usually self-limiting and present with fever, general feelings of wellness, and a typical rash to the sole of the feet, the palms of the hands, and the mouth, the Ministry further said.

There are no specific treatment for HFMD and its spread is contained by applying hygienic methods, including washing hands with soap and running water, disinfecting surfaces and soiled items, including toys, play areas, and avoiding close contact with ill persons.

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