The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment said that there has been a recent increase in cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it is advising Vincentians, particularly School Administrators and Parents, to be cautious in how they deal with the cases to minimize a further outbreak.
A release from the Ministry said the symptoms of the disease usually include fever, sore throat, reduced appetite, painful sores in the mouth, with blisters on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Blisters may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area. The disease commonly occurs in children under 5 years of age, but a milder form of the disease may also develop in older children and adults. Parents are advised to seek medical attention to help manage symptoms.
Children can become infected through personal contact, such as hugging, kissing, sharing cups and utensils, with other infected children or adults. The virus that causes HFMD can also be spread through coughing and sneezing, contact with nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid, and feces (for example when changing a diaper).
The Ministry further advises that HFMD is highly contagious and urges parents to care for children at home and away from other children for a period of 7-10 days, or until the infection resolves.
Sister Cecile James-Samuel, the Senior Nursing Officer/Community Nursing Service, said the best method of prevention is regular hand washing with soap and water for children and their care givers. Disinfecting surfaces, including toys and doorknobs, can help to minimize and control the spread of the disease.