The Ministry of Health is investigating spontaneous outbreaks of rash and blistering lesions mainly on the hands, feet and mouth, accompanied by mild fever and sore throat.
Officials conclude that the likely diagnosis is that of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
The Ministry notes that during the same period last year (20 to 31 October 2015), there were similar outbreaks of HFMD among toddlers which warranted prompt intervention by local Health officials.
Already, health surveillance and public health teams are gathering information and at the same time responding to reports of mild outbreaks among children at daycare and pre and primary schools in some parts of the island.
However, while no decision is being made to close any facility, Health authorities are reminding parents and operators of daycares and kindergartens; that frequent hand washing and cough etiquette is still the number one and best way of managing the disease.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr George Mitchell today Thursday, 27 October 2016, said there are just about a dozen reported cases, and that public education as well as direct interventions at the schools, will be main focus going forward.
Mitchell confirmed that health officials have been in touch with the early childhood development centres and schools where reports emanated. Several education/ information brochures on the disease are being distributed in electronic and print format to the various institutions.
Meanwhile, the MOH is reminding all concerned that (HFMD) is endemic in Grenada and is a legally notifiable, i.e. medical practitioners, childcare centres, kindergartens and schools with (HFMD) outbreaks MUST notify the Ministry of Health.
What to Do If You Have HFMD:
If you suspect your child to have HFMD, please seek immediate medical attention.
If there are any changes in the child’s normal behavior, e.g. irritation and sleepiness, refusal to eat/drink, persistent vomiting or drowsiness, bring your child to the Accidents & Emergency Departments, or health facility, whichever is nearer.
If your child has HFMD, help to reduce the spread of HFMD to others by:
- Informing your child’s school, kindergarten or childcare center immediately, so they can monitor other children closely and take additional precautions.
- Keep your child at home and away from public places and look out for signs and symptoms in other family members.
- Having good hygiene practices such as: Frequent and proper hand-washing e.g. after going to the toilet and before eating.
- Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Not sharing food/drinks, eating utensils, toothbrushes or towels with others.
Properly disinfect articles such as toys, tables, books, door knobs or appliances contaminated by nasal or oral secretions.
FOUR TIPS to ensure that your child is fit for school:
- Check for runny nose and fever (to take temperature)
- Check for blisters on hands and arms
- Check for mouth ulcers
- Check for blisters on soles of feet, legs and/or buttocks
These Infection Control Guidelines are clinically proven.
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE PROFILE.
Definition & Characteristics:
HFMD is a viral infection with an incubation period of HFMD is 3 to 7 days (with a range from 2 days to 2 weeks). Both adults and children can be affected, but young children below 5 years old are more susceptible.
How Is It Spread:
HFMD, which affects mostly children, is spread via bodily fluids like saliva. HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with the nasal discharge, saliva, feces (stool), and fluids from the rash of an infected person.
A person infected with HFMD is most contagious during the duration of the illness. It is easily transmitted among toddlers, making child development centres like (preschools/daycares) hot spots for the spread of the disease. HFMD is usually mild and self-limiting.
Although the virus may continue to persist in the stool for several weeks after infection, the person generally becomes much less contagious when the illness resolves. Nonetheless, good personal and environmental hygiene must continue to be maintained.
A child with HFMD may suffer from some of these symptoms: Fever, Sore throat, Mouth ulcers on the inside of the mouth or sides of the tongue Rash (flat or raised spots) or small blisters on palms of hands, soles of feet, and/or buttocks, Lethargy, Poor appetite, Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
There is NO specific treatment besides relief of symptoms. Treatment with antibiotics is not effective and is not recommended. There is NO HFMD vaccine currently available.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health complications from hand, foot, and mouth disease are not common. Viral or “aseptic” meningitis can occur with hand, foot, and mouth disease, but it is rare. It causes fever, headache, stiff neck, or back pain and may require the infected person to be hospitalized for a few days.