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(PRESS RELEASE) — The Ministry of Health and Wellness has clarified the situation as it related to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease of island and has dismissed an audio recording circulating on social media claiming an outbreak of the disease.
The Community Pediatrician in the Ministry of Health stated that a thorough investigation has been conducted into the matter with the findings indicating no outbreak of the disease but normal occurrences among a few susceptible children.
The Ministry of Health was alerted to a recording circulating on social media claiming an outbreak of Hand, Food and Mouth Disease in one part of the island. The Epidemiological Unit launched an investigation into the matter with the results showing no proof of an outbreak of the disease.
Community Pediatrician, Dr. Olu Ogunlusi explained the results of the investigation.
“You have a few children in the preschool age group that have this illness. So it’s not an outbreak. It’s just a section on the island and a few children are affected.”
She said Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a very common viral illness, like the flu and other viral illnesses, which are seasonal. This disease typically occurs during the months of September to December and mainly affects children below ten years of age but is more common among children under five years old. Symptoms include rash on the hand, mouth, feet and at times the buttocks.
“It usually may start with a low grade fever and then two to three day after this rashes are noticed and they appear like pimples and latter may evolve to a small blister with a red background. Usually it’s not itchy but can make the little children a little uncomfortable, a bit irritable and because of rash in the mouth they may not want to eat.”
Dr. Ogunlusi added that the biggest concern is dehydration.
“But usually it’s a self limiting illness meaning that the doctor does not have to treat it. The body will fight it. Usually it does not last a week, seven days, some children may even recover a little earlier. But because of the little discomfort it will cause we advise the mothers if there is fever you give fever medication like paracetamol, ibuprofen. You ensure the child is drinking. Offer cold liquid foods, something they can sip easily. Avoid hot, spicy food.”
Though there is no specific antiviral drug or medication for this disease she stressed that the public should have no fear of this illness as the human body naturally fights off the disease.
“It’s not a new virus. It’s been on for many years. We have seen it before; this is not the first year. We’ve been seeing it in the previous years and because each year we will have a group of susceptible children that can pick it up, they will pick it up. And, as they out grow it, they build up their immunity and they don’t have it. Some adults may even pick it up but because we have our immunity we don’t fall sick. We may not even have any rash. Just like flu that comes in its seasons and goes, so also is this hand, foot and mouth disease that will come in its season and pass away.”
The Community Pediatrician advised that if parents notice their child is not drinking or eating and seems dehydrated they should take the child to the hospital for treatment and continued monitoring.
“I would also advise that during the period of the illness when the child is sick, not eating well, it’s better to keep them at home and monitor the child and to prevent that child from passing it to another susceptible child in the school.”