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Westmoreland Health Department warns of hand, foot and mouth disease

Thursday, November 28, 2019

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WESTMORELAND, Jamaica— The Westmoreland Health Department is advising schools and parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease (HMFD) among children.

Parish Health and Promotions Officer, Gerald Miller, said that while there is no outbreak of the disease in the parish, the department has received isolated reports of cases, and as such, parents and school administrators must be vigilant.

Initial signs of the disease include fever, poor appetite, sore throat and a feeling of malaise.

These symptoms generally last for one to two days before a blister-like rash appears on the hands, feet and in the mouth.

The rash initially emerges as small red spots, but then develops into blisters. The blisters may develop on the gums, inner cheeks, and tongue and patients may complain of mouth pain and a sore throat.

Young children tend to drool and avoid swallowing and may refuse to drink or eat because of the discomfort.

“These are symptoms that parents need to pay attention to, so if the child is not swallowing or refuses to drink, then this is something that you have to be mindful of. Some people may show no symptom at all, but they can still pass on the virus,” Miller said.

He stressed the importance of good hygiene and urged parents to ensure that children wash their hands regularly as well as use hand sanitizer.

He also encouraged persons to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands and for parents and early-childhood institutions to sanitise toys often, in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

“You or your child may contract it by close contact, as it is contagious… so hugging, kissing or sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have hand, foot and mouth disease [is not advised].

“Being close to someone with the disease, who coughs or sneezes, can also result in the spread of the disease. So, the issue of hand-washing becomes extremely important in the case of hand, foot and mouth,” Miller said.

He said the health department has dispatched information to early-childhood institutions on identifying the symptoms and practising proper hygiene.

He advised that students with symptoms of HFMD should be sent home for at least one week and they should seek medical care.

Miller noted that while there is no specific treatment for the disease “managing the fever and preventing dehydration should be the aim”.

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