Monday 17 December, 2018

Health Ministry warns of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

(Update: The Health Ministry said in a statement issued Monday February 26 that there is no outbreak of the virus as only a few suspected cases were reported in one location.)

The Health Ministry is warning of the spread of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HMFD) in Trinidad and Tobago. 

In a statement issued Saturday, the Ministry said cases of the virus, which is commonly caught by children under the age of five, were identified among pediatric specialists within recent weeks. 

All of the suspected cases have been characterised by blisters on the mouth, palms of hands and under feet. 

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), is a viral illness that usually affects children under the age of five, is characterised by fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on hands, feet, and also buttocks. 

The Ministry said HMFD is not to be confused with foot-and-mouth (also called hoof-and-mouth) disease, which is a different virus which affects cattle, sheep and pigs. 

The virus is spread through direct contact from nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons. 

The usual period from infection to onset of symptoms is usually three to seven days or longer.

Fever, which lasts from 24 to 48 hours, is often the first symptom of HFMD.

The Ministry adds that infected persons are most contagious during the first week of illness but the period of communicability can last for several weeks as the virus persists in the stool.

Children are also very susceptible, however most people recover fully after the illness. 

Additionally, while everyone who has not yet been infected is at risk of infection, not everyone who is infected becomes ill or shows symptoms of the virus. 

Also, when someone gets HFMD, they develop immunity (protection) to the specific virus that caused their infection. However, because HFMD is caused by several different viruses, people can get the disease again.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for HFMD; citizens are advised to provide pain relief through over-the-counter medications (however aspirin should not be given to children).

The use of mouthwashes or sprays can also be used to lessen mouth pain.

Fluid intake should be enough to prevent dehydration. If moderate-to-severe dehydration develops, it can be treated medically by giving fluids through the veins. 

Prevention

Children who show symptoms of the virus are to be kept away from kindergarten, nursery, school or other gatherings until they are well. 

Parents are advised to wash hands frequently and correctly especially after changing diapers and after using the bathroom.

Citizens are advised to keep all surfaces clean, especially toys, with soap and water and a solution of water and bleach (one tablespoon of bleach to four cups of water) to prevent the spread of the virus.

The public is also advised to avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, sharing of eating utensil and cups etc with persons affected with HMFD.

Other preventative measures include covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, properly disposing of used tissues and napkins, and ensuring the living space is clean. 

For more information contact your local clinic or health centre or see information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://bit.ly/2EShkEF

 

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