Nearly a dozen schools report hand, foot and mouth disease
AT LEAST 11 early childhood institutions have reported hand, foot and mouth disease to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry yesterday appealed to school administrators to report any case of hand, foot and mouth disease to their parish health departments.
Director of health promotion and protection in the Ministry of Health, Dr Sonia Copeland, told The Gleaner yesterday that, up to Friday, four institutions in Kingston reported that they have been affected by the disease, subsequently another six schools highlighted cases of hand, foot and mouth.
In St Catherine, one early childhood institution reported a case of the disease.
“It doesn’t appear to be widespread as of now, because we have taken the pre-emptive decision to recirculate all the necessary material to the schools, teachers and administrators,” Copeland pointed out.
At the same time, the ministry is advising school administrators to seek help from the health departments in their respective parishes if they believe that they have a case of the disease in their school.
Copeland stressed that children with symptoms of the disease should be sent home immediately and remain out of school for seven days.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that mainly affects younger children.
Copeland advised that hand, foot and mouth disease should not be confused with foot and mouth disease, which affects cattle.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye advised school administrators to clean and disinfect areas regularly, especially places where young children frequent.
The ministry said children can become infected with the virus from other children through close contact, such as hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils, contact with faeces, as well as other contaminated objects and surfaces. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease. However, simple steps like regular hand-washing and practising good hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection.
Persons who wish to obtain more information on hand, foot and mouth disease may call the Ministry of Health at 1-888-ONE-LOVE (1-888-6635683) or their parish health department.
Dr Sonia Copeland