The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment says it is closely monitoring the current situation of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as there have been confirmed cases in educational institutions in the country.
HFMD is a common viral illness among infants and children under the age of 5 years, but can also occur in adults.
The disease is caused by a group of viruses known as enterovirus. The virus can spread from person to person through:
- close personal contact, such as hugging an infected person
- the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, contact with faeces, such as changing diapers of an infected person or touching contaminated surfaces like door knobs, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands
HFMD usually starts with fever, sore throat, reduced appetite and a feeling of being unwell. One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth. They usually begin as small red spots, often in the back of the mouth that blister and can become painful.
A skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet may also develop over one or two days as flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. It may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.
Generally, a person with hand, foot, and mouth disease is most contagious during the first week of illness. People can sometimes be contagious for days or weeks after symptoms go away.
It is important to drink enough liquids to prevent dehydration.
The ministry is advising persons to take the following precautionary measures:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after changing diapers or using the toilet, before feeding children, preparing or eating food
- Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces and soiled items first, with soap and water and then with disinfectant.
- Avoid sending children to daycare and school if they are suffering from HFMD
- Follow safe food hygiene and water practices
- Avoid close contact such as kissing and hugging infected people. Monitor children for early detection and symptoms and take those who have persistent fever and blisters on hands and feet to your healthcare provider for treatment.
Contact your doctor if mouth sores or a sore throat keep your child from drinking fluids. And contact your doctor if after a few days, your child’s signs and symptoms worsen.