Published On: Thu, Nov 29th, 2018

Outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in Statia

Gerwin-Schobbe-EustatiusORANJESTAD - St. Eustatius is currently experiencing an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease, St. Eustatius Health Department official Gerwin Schobbe said.

He said the disease is highly contagious and is usually contracted by children, but adults can also become infected.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by the coxsackievirus, which is usually in a person’s urine, saliva and intestines. Children contract the virus easily because they sometimes put toys in their mouth which they share with others while playing. The virus can also spread through coughing and when an infected person touches an object the virus remains on it. “The virus is very, very easily spread,” Schobbe explained.

The symptoms usually start with a sore throat. Young children may sometimes experience a fever and sores usually appear at the back of the inside of their mouth. The infected person can also develop rashes on their face and foot. The rashes, Schobbe explained, can turn into blisters that can spread and also lead to lesions on the buttocks and on the knees, elbows as well as on different parts on a person’s body.

By the time a person starts to experience symptoms, especially rashes on the skin, trace amounts of the virus would have already been left for others to come in contact with.

If a parent or guardian sees that their child has a fever and/or sore throat, Schobbe advised them to keep the child at home so that the infectious cycle can be broken more easily. The Health Department is also advising persons to be hygienic by washing their hands, especially if a person is caring for someone that is infected. Schobbe also advised that toys be separated and disinfected on a regular basis so that the virus is not spread more easily amongst children. He cautioned that the virus can spread to another island, if an infected person travels to that island.

“It is very important for everyone to understand although this one ailment might cause some discomfort, the ailment is not dangerous at all. There is no danger of anyone dying from it, there is no reason to be highly alarmed.” Schobbe said.

There is no vaccine for the virus and there is no real treatment for it, he noted. “The only thing that can be done is to support an infected child as they might develop a sore throat which hinders a child’s will to eat.” He suggested popsicles, ice cream or lozenges to help soothe the throat and ensuring infected children consume sufficient fluids/liquids.

Parents who see symptoms in their child are urged to take their child to the doctor so that the diagnosis can be confirmed. When visiting a house doctor with a child, parents are advised to walk with the child’s vaccinations cards, so that the healthcare official know that the child is properly vaccinated. “It’s important to realise that a person or child does not need to have all the symptoms. A person can have some of the symptoms and still have the virus in them and people with a little bad luck will have all the symptoms,” Schobbe said.

Schobbe stressed that there is no reason to panic as the sickness can be over within seven to 10 days and it is not life-threatening in any way. For additional information, persons may contact the St. Eustatius Health Department at tel. +599 318 2891

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