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Public health officials have recently alerted Tampa Bay residents that a dangerous disease has been spreading in the area. Hand, foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious infection, and children are particularly affected. In the Tampa Bay area, the disease is spreading rapidly in daycares and schools. Stricter infectious disease control measures are needed to prevent the further spread of this illness.

What Is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection. This disease can actually be caused by a variety of viruses, all within the enterovirus group. Once a virus infects a person, it lives in the saliva, nasal mucus and in the fluid-filled blisters that form as one of the hallmark symptoms of the disease. The virus can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing, close personal contact, contact with contaminated feces or contact with contaminated surfaces.

Common symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease include:hand, foot and mouth disease

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced appetite
  • Painful sores developing (often in the back of the mouth)
  • Skin rash with red spots
  • Blisters on the palms of hands or soles of the feet
  • Dehydration

Some children and many adults actually show no signs of the disease at all, causing them to unknowingly pass the virus to other people.

There is no treatment available for hand, foot and mouth disease. People who are infected are advised to take over-the-counter pain relievers. In serious cases, the disease may lead to complications. These may include viral meningitis, inflammation of the brain, paralysis (similar to polio) and loss of fingernails or toenails.

Preventing Infection from Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Because there is no cure for hand, foot and mouth disease, preventing infection is essential. Parents and children should take care to frequently wash their hands with hot water and soap. Hand sanitizer may also be effective in reducing the spread of the virus.

If you or your child becomes infected, quarantining yourself for a few days can be useful in preventing the spread of infection. Children should not go to daycare, where the illness is rapidly spreading in Tampa Bay. It is also best to avoid close personal contact with someone who has the disease, including hugs, kisses, handshakes or sharing beverages. Furthermore, it is important to thoroughly clean all surfaces or objects that may be contaminated by the virus.

Given the high risk of contracting hand, foot and mouth disease at daycare facilities, schools and homes, it is essential for these places to invest in high-quality environmental infection control. EcoShield provides services at every step of the process: creating a pre-emergency action plan, training staff members in infection control and responding with environmental cleaning in case of disease outbreak. Contact EcoShield today to invest in the health and safety of your facility.

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