There have been reports of sporadic outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) across the island over the past week.
To this end, the Ministry of Health is advising parents, guardians and teachers to take the necessary precautions in an effort to curtail the spread of this normally benign disease.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral illness spread by direct contact with nasal and throat secretions or faeces of the infected person.
The virus may also be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, and contaminated hands if not washed thoroughly. However, the causative virus is quite different from that of Foot and Mouth Disease, which is a disease of animals.??The disease occurs mainly in children under 10 years of age, but adult cases are not unusual.
According to Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, children should be kept away from school or nursery during the period of their illness. However, they may resume normal activity before the last blister has disappeared providing he/she is otherwise well.
Noting that complications may occur from the virus infections that cause HFMD, Dr. Ferdinand said: ???They are not common, but if they do happen medical care should be sought for the child…Over the counter pain relievers such as Panadol and Advil can be given for aches and mouth sores, while fever can be treated with fever-reducing medication.???
The Chief Medical Officer stated that there was no specific treatment for HFMD and antibiotics were usually not necessary, but advised using pain-numbing mouth washes or sprays to lessen mouth pain. Additionally, fluid intake should be adequate for prevention of dehydration, but medical care should be immediately sought if moderate to severe dehydration develops.
The Health official stressed that the risk of infection may be lowered by following good hygienic practices including frequent and correct hand washing, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
She also recommended ???cleaning dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys, first with soap and water and then disinfecting them by cleansing with a solution of chlorine bleach which can be made by adding one tablespoon of bleach to four cups of water???.
Dr. Ferdinand further urged nurseries and schools to employ these practices and monitor children to avoid close contact, namely kissing, hugging, sharing eating and drinking utensils with others who have HFMD.
Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease include fever, malaise, sore mouth and the development of a rash. Mouth lesions appear on the inside surfaces of the cheeks, gums and on the sides of the tongue, while raised pink spots particularly on the palms, fingers, soles and occasionally on the buttocks, develop into blisters, and may persist for seven to 10 days.