(Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News)
Government Epidemiologist, Harmony Brewley has announced that although the Environmental Health Division and the Ministry of Health have increased their sensitization in response to the outbreak of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease in the Territory there is an expectation that the number of children affected by the disease will increase.
Over the past month, the Territory has been on alert for cases of the disease in the Territory. As of this week it was announced that there are approximately 76 cases of the disease specifically involving children in the various daycares in the Territory.
In a radio interview aired yesterday November 4, Brewley announced that health officials are working to address the situation: "The Environmental Health Division and the Ministry of Health are definitely on top of this. We are conducting our assessment, doing our contact tracing and we are conducting sensitization.”
We realize there is a lot of misconception out there regarding Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease so those need to be clarified, so that persons can be educated and be able to control measures. Regarding the daycare we are enforcing hygienic and sanitation practices to stop the transition of the virus.
The Epedimiologist said that the situation is being compounded by incorrect perceptions about the disease.
“Misconceptions relating to what it is, how long the virus stays in the body because some persons believe once the 10 days are up or once the lesions or blisters have dried up that's it, but the virus actually stays in the feces for up to four to eight weeks so that’s why sometimes you may have what we call secondary cases or close contact coming down with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth, because they still maybe changing the diapers and not practicing strict hand hygiene measures. What happens is that they then contract Hand-Foot-and-Mouth although the child is not showing visible symptoms,” Brewley said.
The symptoms of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease are: Fever, sore throat, feeling of being unwell (malaise), painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks, a red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks; and irritability in infants and toddlers.
It was announced that there is no cause for concern as yet in relations to the disease being at preschools.
Brewley noted, “We’ve only had very few cases ...within the pre-schools, but most of the cases are actually from two years and under.”
Meanwhile, it was mentioned that older children are not immune to the disease there has been an occurrence of the disease in a child older than pre-school age.
“We've actually had one adolescent case that we know of. Other than that we don’t really have any report from the young adult population or even the primary school,” Brewley stated.