Reports of viral infection throughout the territory; Health team launches probe

The original article can be found in: BVI News Online

The Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit said it has launched an investigation into reported cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at nurseries, pre-schools and daycare centres throughout the territory.

“Officers from the British Virgin Island Health Services Authority and Environmental Health will be conducting in-depth inspections with the aim of identifying, curtailing and preventing further spread,” said a statement from the Government Information Service.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a common viral infection that causes a rash to form on the skin of the hands, feet, and oral cavity. It has an incubation period of three to seven days, and mainly occurs in nursery schools or kindergartens during the summer and autumn months.

Early symptoms of the disease are likely to be fever, often followed by a sore throat. Loss of appetite and general body weakness may also occur.

“HFMD is fairly common and typically affects infants and children, but may affect immune compromised adults as well,” the authorities further said. “HFMD is directly related to poor hygiene habits and is moderately contagious since it is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or faeces of an infected person.”

While there is no vaccine to prevent the disease, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection.

Children diagnosed with the disease should be kept out of child care institutions or school until the fever is gone and mouth sores have healed.

Children should be taught the importance of good hygiene and not to put their fingers, hands or any other objects in their mouths.

High-traffic areas and surfaces should be cleaned first with soap and water, followed by a diluted solution of chlorine bleach (approximately 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water).

Health officials further said: “Child care centre should follow a strict schedule of cleaning and disinfect all common areas, including shared items such as toys, as the virus can live on these objects for days. Baby pacifiers should also be cleaned often.”

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