HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Three Henrico County Public Schools are being disinfected after multiple students have come down with hand, foot and mouth disease.
“Multiple students in the Henrico County Public Schools have been diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). HFMD is caused by a virus that commonly affects infants and children, but the illness can occur in persons of any age,” the Henrico County Health Department wrote in a letter sent home to parents on Friday.
Andy Jenks, a spokesperson for Henrico schools, said 10 cases were reported at Glen Allen High School. Additionally, six cases were reported at Mills Godwin High and three cases were diagnosed at Freeman High.
As a result, all of the schools, as well as their locker rooms, are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
The Henrico County Health Department sent the following letter to parents on Friday:
Multiple students in the Henrico County Public Schools have been diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). HFMD is caused by a virus that commonly affects infants and children, but the illness can occur in persons of any age.
Common symptoms of HFMD include:
- Sores in the mouth that usually appear 1 or 2 days after fever starts. The mouth sores are often painful, and people with the sores often have a decreased appetite.
- Skin rash with flat or raised red spots, sometimes with blisters. The rash is usually on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but it may affect other areas, such as the knees, elbows, or buttocks.
People with HFMD may not get all of the symptoms of the disease. They may only get the mouth sores or skin rash. If your child develops symptoms of HFMD, please call your healthcare provider for guidance.
HFMD can spread from one person to another. It is spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons. People are most contagious during the first week of illness. To decrease the spread of disease, we recommend washing hands with soap and warm water multiple times throughout the day; alcohol based hand sanitizers are not effective against this virus. We also recommend increasing environmental cleaning, especially of commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs and in locker rooms and gyms where there may be more opportunities for exposure.
Please help to prevent the spread of illness by encouraging your child to always wash his/her hands after using the restroom and before eating, and by keeping your child at home and away from group settings (school, church, sports, etc.) when ill. Your child should not come to school for at least 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. After the fever is gone, your child may still have a rash. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about how long to wait for the rash to clear up before it is okay to come back to school. A child with sores that are draining fluids that cannot be contained by bandages should not come to school.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact your healthcare provider, or the local health department at: 804-501-5216.
Susan Fischer Davis, MD Laura R. Young, MPH
Health District Director District Epidemiologist
Henrico County Health Department Henrico County Health Department
Information from the Virginia Department of Health on hand, foot, and mouth disease
What is hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.
Who gets HFMD?
HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than five years old; however, it can sometimes occur in adults.
How is HFMD spread?
HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with the viruses that cause this disease. These viruses are found in the nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), fluid in blisters, and stool of infected persons. The viruses may be spread when infected persons touch objects and surfaces that are then touched by others.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
HFMD usually starts with a fever, poor appetite, a vague feeling of being unwell (malaise), and sore throat. One or two days after fever starts, painful sores usually develop in the mouth and a skin rash may appear. The rash is usually on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.
How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
Symptoms usually appear three to six days after exposure.
How is HFMD diagnosed?
Hand, foot and mouth disease is one of the many infections that cause mouth sores. Health care providers are able to determine whether the mouth sores are caused by hand, foot and mouth disease by considering the age of the patient, what symptoms are reported and by the appearance of the mouth sores. Additionally, depending on how severe the symptoms are, samples from the throat or stool may be collected and sent to a laboratory to test for the virus.
How long is a person able to spread the disease?
Infected persons are most contagious during the first week of the illness. The viruses that cause HFMD can remain in the body for weeks after symptoms have gone away. This means that infected people can
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) still pass the infection to others, even though they may appear well. Also, some people who are infected and shedding the virus, including most adults, may have no symptoms.
What is the treatment for HFMD?
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. Persons who are concerned about their symptoms should contact their health care provider.
What can be done to prevent the spread of HFMD?
A person can lower their risk of being infected by:
- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
- Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys. First wash the items with soap and water, then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach and 4 cups of water).
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who have HFMD.
How can I get more information about HFMD?
1) If you have concerns about HFMD, contact your healthcare provider.
2) Call your local health department. A directory of local health departments is located at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/LHD/index.htm.
3) Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html.