Local hand, foot and mouth disease reported

A small number of local cases of
hand, foot and mouth disease have been reported in Cayman, but public health
officials say it is unlikely there will be a widespread outbreak.

Last week, Cayman Prep Primary
School notified parents that two children at the school had been diagnosed with
the disease, which is a common viral infection usually found in infants and
children.

Principal of Cayman Prep Primary
School, Brian Wilson, emailed parents to warn them of the cases, stating, “If
you suspect that your child might have hand, foot and mouth disease, please
contact his/her doctor and keep him/her away from school until the doctor
authorises a return.”

The disease, which is not usually
serious, is moderately contagious and spread through touching contaminated,
unwashed hands or surfaces.

Dr. Kiran Kumar, the Cayman Islands
Health Services Authority Medical Officer of Health, said he had heard of
recent cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, but it was not a disease that is
mandatorily reportable to the public health authorities, so there were no official
statistics available on the number of cases.

He said there had been one reported
case of hand, foot and mouth disease in Cayman in 2008 and he had heard of no
cases last year.

“It can be prevented with good
hygiene and we have very good hygiene here in the schools in the Cayman
Islands,” he said.

Confusion

He advised people not to confuse
hand, foot and mouth disease with the foot and mouth disease seen in animals
because the two are not related.

“People often confuse these two
diseases and get very anxious about it. Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral
disease usually seen in children… it causes a nose and throat infection and the
children get fever and flu symptoms.”

Hand, foot and mouth disease can
also lead to rashes and fever blisters.

It usually begins with a fever,
poor appetite, an unwell feeling and a sore throat. One or two days after the
fever starts, painful sores usually develop in and around the mouth and a
non-itchy rash develops, mainly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the
feet.

According to the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, there are no specific preventive measures for the
illness, but the risk of infection can be reduced by following good hygiene
practices.

Infected people are most contagious
during the first week, although the virus can cause the disease to remain in
the body for weeks after a patient’s symptoms have gone away, so it can still
be passed on even when the person appears well.

The disease mainly appears in
children aged under the age of 10, although it occasionally appears in adults.

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