After two years of diligent sanitizing due to COVID-19, another disease is making its way through Regina day cares.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning families about an increase in hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) spreading in child-care centers in the Queen City.
A letter was sent to daycares, asking them to contact SHA if two or more cases of the disease are identified in one week.
“Symptoms include a fever, sore throat, sores or blisters around or inside the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet,” the SHA said in the letter.
The disease is typically found in young children, especially during summer months. It is transmitted primarily through saliva – one of the reasons outbreaks are often seen at daycares.
“The kids who typically get hand, foot and mouth disease are very young kids, they will tend to drool,” said Dr. Athena McConnell, a professor in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Saskatchewan.
“So they’ll reach for an object, put it in their mouth, and then they’ll put it back down again.”
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She said the disease is as infectious as a cold, but generally goes away after 10 to 14 days. During the sickness, she says the best thing parents can do is keep their kids hydrated.
“When kids get in trouble with hand, foot and mouth disease, it’s because they don’t want to swallow,” McConnell explained. “As a result, they might have problems with dehydration. Other than dehydration, though, it’s not a huge deal.”
McConnell recommends parents offer the kids things that are cold, that melt and are soothing to keep the hydration up.
“Jell-O, popsicles, ice cream – all of those help both with pain as well as with keeping the kids fluids up.”
There is no vaccine for the viruses that cause HFMD, and it generally takes three to five days for a person to experience symptoms.
While the disease mostly affects young children, adults can get it too.
The best defense? Washing your hands well, and often.
Similar to advise relating to COVID-19, SHA urges anyone with HFMD symptoms to stay home when sick, wash their hands frequently and consider wearing a mask.