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Hand foot, and mouth disease in area daycares

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health wants parents to know there have been reports of hand foot and mouth disease in some day cares around Jacksonville.

According to the health department, there have been a cluster of reports in the past week. Nancy Dreicer at Chappell Schools says in the past month, their center has seen roughly 13 cases of the virus throughout their 8 locations. Precious Angels Day Care also reported that two kids in the last month came down with the virus.

Parents were informed that children affected by the virus could have symptoms that include a blister-like rash on the hands, feet or mouth. The health department is helping the day cares affected with passing along information to the staff and the parents on how to avoid spreading the disease.

Just like most viruses, hand foot and mouth disease is very contagious. This is why it can spread so quickly through a daycare.

People with the illness are usually most contagious in the first week, but can remain contagious for weeks after symptoms go away.

Dealing with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Many people have heard of hand, foot and mouth disease, but most don’t give it much of a thought until it makes an appearance in their home.

Highly contagious

According to Dr. Sara Lappe of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, this common and highly contagious illness typically affects children under the age of ten.

“Just like most viruses, it’s pretty contagious,” said Dr. Lappe. “So it’s one of those ones in a daycare setting can spread very quickly and in school setting, amongst families - if they haven’t had it, will often spread amongst the whole family.”

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a number of different viruses.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Within a day or two after the initial symptoms appear, a blister-like rash forms on the hands, feet or mouth.

Dr. Lappe said parents will often bring their kids to the doctor because they are not eating, only to learn that the lack of appetite is being caused by mouth sores from the virus.

The illness is spread through direct contact with nose, or throat fluids of an infected person or through contact with infected stool.

People with the illness are usually most contagious in the first week, but can remain contagious for weeks after symptoms go away.

Treating symptoms

There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease, however there are things folks can do to make the symptoms, which can last about a week, more tolerable.

Dr. Lappe said it’s best to avoid foods and drinks that are too acidic, that can irritate mouth sores.

“Avoiding orange juice, pineapple juice, those kind of things and stick with more mild foods,” said Dr. Lappe. “Cold things may feel a little bit better -- sucking on a popsicle, those kind of things. You can also use over-the-counter pain medications as well.”

Dr. Lappe said it’s important to practice good hand hygiene and to keep children at home if they are sick with hand, foot, and mouth to prevent the spread of the illness.