A nasty, highly contagious virus strikes multiple families in Edmond. Parents are reporting new cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease in their children.
The Edmond splash pad is under fire by moms who say their kids contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease while playing there recently, but epidemiologists say it is nearly impossible to track down the actual source of the virus, because of how easily it spreads.
Sores on the hands, feet and mouths of patients mark the classic signs of the virus of the same name. Jessica Austin's two sons, 9 and 1 years old, both came down with the illness in May. “My younger son went to a home daycare,” she says. “Every child at that home daycare got it.”
Austin says baby Asher had to stay home for a week with painful blisters, and could not return to daycare until his sores scabbed over. State health department epidemiologists say traces of the virus may remain in the body for weeks after visible symptoms disappear. Baby Asher ended up losing a few fingernails long after physically recovering.
“If you have a person that’s feeling particularly well, but they’re continuing to interact with other people, then they might potentially be a source,” says OSDH epidemiologist Laurence Bernsed.
The virus spreads through direct contact, coughing and sneezing, and may linger on items touched by an infected individual, which is why it is critical to disinfect. The city of Edmond cleans its splash pad with bleach regularly and never recycles water, but Bernsed says thorough hand washing is key after your family is in any kind of group setting.
“You add on that encouragement of hand hygiene,” says Bernsed, “so that way if you have objects that are contaminated, then you can reduce the potential of accidentally infecting yourself by washing your hands on a regular basis.
Plus, Bernsed emphasizes the importance of keeping your child away from others if they do get sick, helping prevent the spread. Austin agrees, saying she had to take time off of work to care for Asher during his illness. She says, “If we can isolate the kids that have it, you’re doing your fellow parents a big favor.”
As your child enjoys pools and parks this summer, pay attention to their playmates and look for any visible signs of illness. If you suspect they may have contracted the disease, see a doctor as soon as possible.
To learn more about Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, click here.