Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
National Epidemiologist Ms. Harmonie Brewley-Massiah has confirmed 44 cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) across 10 preschools and day care centres in the Territory.
Ms. Brewley-Massiah said HFMD is a generally mild, but very contagious viral disease which is most common in childcare settings on a seasonal basis. She said that it is expected that the case numbers will continue to increase as investigations continue.
“Proper hand washing, disinfection and sanitisation is needed to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease,” Ms. Brewley-Massiah said, adding, “We are also asking that all health-care providers and educational institutions increase their vigilance and to immediately report any suspected cases of the disease to the Ministry of Health at telephone numbers 468-2281 or 468-2285.”
Hand foot and mouth disease is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and contact with infected feces through the changing of diapers or touching surfaces or objects which have been contaminated with the virus. Symptoms usually begin with a fever, itching, sore throat, reduced appetite and a general feeling of being unwell. Within two days of the onset of symptoms, a rash consisting of small red spots or blisters may appear on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands or inside the mouth.
Persons should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and disinfect surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs. Persons should also avoid close contact such as hugging, kissing and sharing eating utensils with persons who are infected with the disease.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.