Dominica has suspected cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease

October 18, 2023 in Regional

Dominica’s Ministry of Health has informed the public of a recently reported increase in cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) within the community.

In the first week of October, the Ministry identified one suspected case. This resulted in the release of a circular by the Environmental Health Department on October 11, 2023. Since then, there have been suspected cases in 5 out of 7 health districts among children below six years old.

HFMD is a common childhood illness caused by various strains of enteroviruses, primarily the Coxsackievirus A16 and Enterovirus 71. It usually affects children under the age of five but can also occur in older children and adults. The disease presents as a mild to moderate illness but can cause discomfort and concern.

Symptoms of HFMD usually appear within three to seven days after exposure to the virus and may include fever, sore throat, a rash on the hands and feet, and small, painful blisters in the mouth. In some cases, individuals may also experience a loss of appetite, irritability, and feel generally unwell.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease can easily spread from person to person through close contact with saliva, nasal discharge, fluid from blisters, or fecal matter. Therefore, it is crucial to practice good personal hygiene, such as washing hands frequently, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

To help control the spread of HFMD, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services recommends that parents keep their children home from school or daycare if they exhibit symptoms. It is equally important to seek medical advice promptly if HFMD is suspected, especially if an individual experiences high fever, dehydration, difficulty swallowing, or if the symptoms worsen.

While there is no specific treatment or vaccine for HFMD, most individuals recover within seven to ten days with appropriate care, ample rest, and fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage the discomfort caused by the mouth blisters and fever. It is crucial that individuals affected by HFMD avoid contact with others until they have fully recovered to prevent further transmission.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services is closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with healthcare providers and the Ministry of Education to ensure the adequate management of cases and further prevent the spread of HFMD within communities.

The Ministry is urging the public, particularly school teachers, parents and children, to raise their awareness for symptoms and promote hygienic practices.