August 10, 2016 12:01 pm

20 Canadian sailors on HMCS Charlottetown contract hand, foot and mouth disease

The HMCS Charlottetown. pictured in Halifax.

Alexa MacLean/Global News

Nearly two dozen sailors on the Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown came down with hand, foot and mouth disease while deployed overseas, according to a Canada’s Defence Department.

A defence spokesperson confirmed to Global News it received reports of 20 crew members who contracted the contagious hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). As of Aug. 9 two cases are currently ongoing and none have caused serious illness

“CAF members with HFMD on board HMCS Charlottetown are being treated to help alleviate their symptoms as required individually,” Daniel LeBouthillier said in an email. “No specific antiviral agent is available for therapy or prevention of HFMD. Treatment is supportive and focuses on management of complications.”

WATCH: HMCS Charlottetown leaves Halifax

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HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects young children however it can sometimes occur in adults, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The disease can cause painful oral lesions or rashes and sores on the hands and feet. Other symptoms include fever, sore throat, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

The HMCS Charlottetown, a Canadian frigate, sailed from Halifax on June 27 to join Operation Reassurance as part of Canada’s contribution to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Eastern and Central Europe.

The NATO-led mission Operation Reassurance was prompted by Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine.

READ MORE: Life at sea: an inside look into the world of a Royal Canadian Navy sailor

In July, the ship participated in two different exercises in the Black Sea, dubbed Sea Shield and Sea Breeze, aimed at strengthening combat readiness among NATO forces, including anti-submarine warfare.

The Canadian frigate sails with a crew of approximately 250 personnel of all ranks, including a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment.

The disease can be spread by close personal contact such as coughing or sneezing and touching infected surfaces, by touching a doorknob that has the virus on it then touching your eyes, mouth or nose making the close-quarters of the ship particularly problematic for crew members.

LeBouthillier said none of the Canadian Forces members who reported HFMD were placed in quarantine and preventative measures including repeated hand washing, avoiding close contact with those who have the disease, avoiding touching of the face and cleaning frequently touched surfaces have been put in place to contain the outbreak.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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