CPS and Pediatricians Urge Summer Camps and Day care Centers to take extra hygienic measures to prevent Hand Foot and Mouth Disease 

Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) has been confirmed via clinical diagnosis by pediatricians, and the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department with the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, in conjunction with the pediatricians from the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), are urging summer camps, day care centers and play schools to take extra measures to prevent HFMD such as washing of hands often with soap and water.

HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children who are 10-years of age or younger.  It can sometimes occur in adults.  There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Persons with symptoms should contact their family physician and continue to take preventive measures in order to avoid getting HFMD.

Symptoms of HFMD include cold-like conditions, fever, mouth sores, loss of appetite, cough, and a skin rash; a non-itchy red rash that develops on the hand and the feet, and sometimes the rash can develop into painful blisters; painful mouth ulcers.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread from person to person through nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid, or stool of infected persons.

If your child or you have any of these symptoms, visit your family physician.

To lower your risk of being infected with hand, foot and mouth disease, wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet; disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys.  First wash the items with soap and water, and then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach; and avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, thumb-sucking, nail-chewing or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected persons.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is not the same as foot and mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep and pigs.  The two infections are unrelated, and you cannot catch hand, foot and mouth disease from animals.

Concerns have arisen from parents with children who have shown a skin rash on their hand, foot and mouth; several of them have been seen at the pediatric office and the Emergency Room, SMMC reported.

“I saw several patients with signs of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, a very common and self-limiting infection in children. Children below 10 years of age are often affected but also adults can have symptoms,” Dr. Martijn Tilanus pointed out.

Dr. Tilanus adds, “In most cases, the problem resolves within one week, even without therapy. HFMD is seen all over the world and during summer and autumn more cases and small outbreaks are observed.

“Since the disease is accompanied by the presence of painful sores in mouth and throat, some painkillers (paracetamol and/or with ibuprofen) will help the child to get through this unpleasant episode.  Also supportive therapy with nose drops is definitely recommendable as well as a crème application to alleviate itching. Most important, is for parents to monitor the child’s fluid intake; the painful throat and palate may lead to reduced oral intake of fluids which can easily lead to dehydration.”

For more information you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003 or send an email tosurveillance@sintmaartengov.org