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MOH: VI does not have foot & mouth disease

HFMD is not serious and commonly affects infants and children.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – A press release from the Government Information Service (GS) stated that the Ministry of Health and Social Development, in collaboration with the BVI Health Services Authority, is investigating reports of cases of hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) disease at nurseries, pre-schools and daycare centres throughout the Territory.

To this end, the Ministry is assuring the public that the Virgin Islands does not have an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as goats, sheep and cows.

HFMD is not serious and commonly affects infants and children. In the U.S. and other countries with temperate climates, HFMD occurs most often in summer and early autumn. The disease is a human syndrome caused by an intestinal virus. The most common strains causing HFMD are Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus 71 (EV-71).

While there is no vaccine to prevent the disease, there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection. HFMD is directly related to poor hygiene habits and is moderately contagious since it is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or feces of an infected person.

It typically occurs in nursery schools or kindergartens, usually during the summer and autumn months. The usual incubation period is three to seven days. Early symptoms are likely to be fever often followed by a sore throat. Also, loss of appetite and general malaise may also occur.

A rash or red blisters may appear on the hands, feet, mouth, tongue, inside of the cheeks, and occasionally the buttocks. Generally, the rash on the buttocks will be caused by diarrhea. Individual symptoms such as fever and pain from the sores may be eased with the use of pain relievers.

According to doctors, HFMD is a viral disease that has to run its course. Many doctors do not issue medicine for this illness. Infection in older children, adolescents, and adults is typically mild and lasts approximately one week, or occasionally longer.

Fever reducers and lukewarm baths can help bring temperatures down, and only a very small minority of sufferers requires hospitalisation.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development is urging parents and caregivers of small children, especially workers in nursery schools or kindergartens, to take the necessary precautions to prevent spread of the disease. Children should be taught the importance of good hygiene and not to put their fingers, hands or any other objects in their mouths.

Disinfection of high-traffic areas and surfaces should be cleaned first with soap and water, followed by a diluted solution of chlorine bleach, approximately 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Child care centres should follow a strict schedule of cleaning and disinfect all common areas, including shared items such as toys, as the virus can live on these objects for days. Baby pacifiers should also be cleaned often.

Parents and caregivers should also practice good hygiene and wash their hands carefully and frequently. When soap and water are not available, hand wipes or gels treated with germ-killing alcohol should be used. Children diagnosed with the disease should be kept out of child care or school until the fever is gone and mouth sores have healed.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development endeavours to provide leadership that promotes health, social well being and a safe environment.

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