Kids' virus outbreak no reason to worry

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2004

A mild illness with a name similar to a disease domestic animals get has shown up recently at at least one area daycare.

The illness, called hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease found in cattle, sheep and swine. Although the names are similar, the two diseases are not related and are caused by different viruses, according to information on the Web site of the Center for Disease Control.

The disease is a common illness of infants and children. Symptoms include fever, painful sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters, usually on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The rash also may appear on the buttocks, according to the Web site.

The illness showed up at Arctic Angels Daycare in Soldotna about two weeks ago.

"All my kids have had it," said Ana Thornton, referring to the three kids she regularly cares for.

The disease is caused by a virus, and there is no treatment other than letting the illness run its course, according to Dr. Beth Funk, a medical epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health.

"There isn't any specific treatment. It's a mild, self-limited disease," she said.

The illness usually runs its course in seven to 10 days.

HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of an infected individual.

The best method of prevention is to wash your hands thoroughly and often, Funk said.

Even though the illness is mild, kids with a suspected case should stay at home until it clears up.

"Anybody with a rash is not supposed to be in daycare until it resolves," Funk said.

Thornton sent her daycare kids home until the illness ran its course.

"We went through it and all the kids are back and they're health and they're happy," Thornton said.

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