CPS Urges Parents and Guardians to be on alert to prevent Hand Foot and Mouth Disease 


GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – There has been a noticeable increase in cases of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department with the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, are urging parents and guardians, day care centers and play schools to be on alert of an increase in clusters of HFMD amongst the school population, and therefore advises 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 consult their family physician and take necessary measures in order to mitigate an increase in the observed numbers of 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.  When handling secretions it is advisable to apply the necessary preventive measures.

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.

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

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