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Jun 28, 2012

Healthy Living cleanses the facts about Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

The Ministry of Health says that about a hundred cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease have been confirmed among young children in Belize. The disease is contagious and viral but fortunately not life threatening.  Healthy Living gets the details on this disease and how to prevent your child from getting it.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It is highly contagious, very uncomfortable and children are most susceptible to this disease. For these reasons and more, parents should be concerned about protecting their children from hand foot and mouth disease. To find out more we checked in with Pediatrician Doctor Cecilio Eck.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Pediatrician

Cecilio Eck

“Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild or benign viral illness that occurs in the late summer fall in the states. It usually occurs in very mild settings where kids are close together such and day care centers and schools. It is spread through droplet infections; through stool. And what happens in those settings when the kids are together they share—they have a lot of snacks and they infect each other a whole lot.”

 

The illness is spread through contact with a person who is infected and lasts just over a week.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“After you’re exposed to it, the stool or the secretions from the child, there is an incubation period of about three to seven days and after a fever starts you get a sore throat. The fever usually lasts about a day or two but it can go up to a week though. After a day or two the fever would break and then you have bumps coming up in the palms, in the soles and in the hands and feet; hence the name hands and feet more commonly in the hands and feet.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“And in the mouth?”

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“That’s where it can become complicated. You can have ulcers that can occur on the inside of the lip on the roof of the mouth and the back throat and they are very painful.”

 

The sores and fever cause the most discomfort to infected persons. Complications are rare, but can occur.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Not very dangerous. We’ve had a couple babies that we’ve admitted in the ward at the K.H.M.H. who are very irritable and that needed to be studied and later on we noticed the bumps coming out and we realize that it’s just hand foot and mouth disease. It’s not very serious. But it can become complicated. Some of the kids don’t eat enough and then they become dehydrated and they need IV fluids and some of the sores that come out or the lesions on the skin, the kids would scrape it and I’ve seen a couple who have come to my office with impetigo which is a secondary skin infection because the sores become infected with other bacteria.”

 

The children most affected are those who may not practice the best personal hygiene so those under ten are ten years are considered vulnerable. The most contagious period is the first week and spread through direct contact. According Dr. Eck, pointed out that in his years of practice, a flare-up in cases like we are experiencing now is not very common especially during such a short time but he’s seen a downward trend in new cases.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“More than likely it was one or two cases and they went to school and it started to spread; it’s a regular outbreak. I’ve seen cases from Belmopan from Orange Walk and Corozal—most are in Belize. The thing is the naturally history of an outbreak is the sporadic cases at first which start to balloon up and then reach a peak and then gradually subside. I think we’re on the downward track now.”

 

As for treatment, it’s mainly addressing the individual symptoms and keeping children hydrated and comfortable.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Ice cream, jello, slush; don’t worry about food, worry about fluids. A little Tylenol if the kids get a fever and it does help with the sores in the mouth and some people suggest the lozenges that has the benzocayne in it. It is just supportive care.”

 

The biggest concern was the exposure children have at school but with the start of summer, children will convene once again for the myriad of summer programs. Dr Eck calls on parents to be responsible about their children’s health.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“What is recommended is that all surfaces be sterilized; my office or toys are sterilized every day. If a kid comes in then we kinda quarantine them in another room. It’s very difficult in the day care centers and at school though. We’re thankful that school is letting out now but other programs are starting up soon. So tell the parents that if they notice that their kid has this illness then take them out of school until they recover. If they notice a kid like that in the summer program, then bring it to the administration attention and either that kid would go out till they get better or remember that it is contagious, but it’s only for a week and then after that certainly the kids can come back.”

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