Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral infection that can affect young children. It does not usually pose a serious threat to a child’s health but can be an unpleasant condition particularly if it affects younger children. This virus is currently being experienced on St Helena.
Typical symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease include:
- Cold-like symptoms, such as loss of appetite, cough and a moderately high temperature of around 38-39°C (100.4-102.2°F).
- A non-itchy red rash, made up of spots or small fluid-filled sacs (vesicles), which usually develop on the hands and feet, but may also occur on the knees, elbows, groin and buttocks – sometimes the rash can develop into painful blisters.
- Painful mouth ulcers.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a self-limiting condition, which means it will get better on its own without treatment. The symptoms will usually pass within seven days.
However, the symptoms can be uncomfortable so possible treatment options include:
- Using paracetamol, ibuprofen and mouth gels to relieve the pain of mouth ulcers
- Drinking plenty of fluids to help relieve a high temperature.
These items can all be obtained from the Pharmacy or from local stores. There is no need to see a Doctor for this condition.
But you should contact your Doctor if your child is not drinking any fluid or their symptoms last longer than seven days.
A person with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is highly contagious until about a week after the symptoms begin. Because of the way the infection is spread, outbreaks of the disease can occur in places where groups of children need to have their nappies changed or use a potty, such as nurseries or childcare centres.
You should keep your child away from school or nursery while they are unwell.
However, there is no need to wait until the last blister has gone before your child can return to school or nursery, providing they are otherwise well.
The Health Directorate cannot issue sick certificates for parents whose children are unwell. Please contact your HR department for guidance on Parental or Emergency leave.
16 September 2015