'Ghost virus' affecting children throughout the Midlands - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

'Ghost virus' affecting children throughout the Midlands


Kids usually show signs of illness quickly.

At St. Michael's Early Learning Center, the staff cares for more than 50 children each day and what staffers are seeing are cases of kids catching a fast-acting illness.

"The virus itself," St. Michael's Early Learning Center Director Rebecca Maitland said, "the hand, the foot and mouth, it's aptly named because it shows up on the hands, the feet, and in the mouth and sometimes, it's just inside the mouth. So, you don't even see it at all."

Maitland said about a dozen children have come down with the sickness known as the hand, foot, and mouth disease in the past six weeks. In some cases, they've also developed a high fever. There are also small outbreaks that doctors say can be common with hand, foot, and mouth during the summer.

"Given as to how contagious it is and how short a time you have to get them out of daycare," Dr. Brandon Emery said, "it's kind of hard to contain like that."

General symptoms of the virus include fever followed by blisters in the mouth and a rash according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Rashes can also appear on the child's hands and the soles of their feet.

Emery said it's the playful nature of kids that makes them so susceptible to the illness. The virus is usually untraceable with kids up to five days before their parents see any symptoms. That's more than enough time for them to interact with others and possibly spread it.

"It lives on hard surfaces like phones, lights, tables and chairs," Emery said. " So, a kid would touch that and, then, touch their face. So, then, they've been exposed to the virus that way, too. That's the reason you have the high infectivity in children."

Being a virus, doctors believe there are few way to get a handle on hand, foot and mouth. A visit to the doctor may be required if your child develops a fever. Emery said the best way to prevent any spread is frequent hand washing as well as down time if your child comes down with the virus.

"If the child is sick, they do not need to be in daycare," Emery said.

Daycare providers agree.

"Please," Maitland said, "if they're running a fever, excessively cranky, please keep them at home because that's the best place for them."

The good news is doctors say your child will likely only get the hand, foot, and mouth virus once.

More information on the hand, foot, and mouth disease can be found at this link.

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