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WICHITA, Kansas — Area health experts are not calling it an epidemic, only a “normal” event. But Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease has arrived in the metro from Marion County to Hutchinson, Maize and Goddard to Wichita.
“It can spread easily, and quickly,” says Dr. Amy Seery, pediatrician at the Via Christi Specialty Clinic. “It really just kind of wipes a kid out. They can have what we call malaise. They are just tired, laying around and not wanting to be as active. And it only lasts for a few days, but if the (child) is not feeling well and they have a sore throat and they are not actively having fluids pushed at them, children are at risk for becoming dehydrated with this disease. “
Anthony got the call, and stayed home with his son this weekend.
“Well, we heard from another parent it was going around the school,” says Anthony. “I got a call from my wife saying my son has a high fever and a headache and immediately we thought, has he contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease? Because several of the kids in his school have it and we were just wondering if it was a matter of him getting it. Last night was a really bad fever, really bad headache. He was so sick he didn’t even want to watch SpongeBob. So that will give you an idea of how sick he was.”
So Anthony has stayed home from work as well. Adults, generally speaking, do not get it.
“It’s just one of those common, childhood diseases,” says Claudia Blackburn with the Sedgwick County Health Department. “Really, nobody keeps track of this. It’s just a common childhood illness. It really would be like trying to keep track of the common cold.”
Doctors say, along with high fever, dehydration and headache, kids can get sores in their mouth, on their palms and on the soles of their feet.
“Yes, just like the name,” says Dr. Seery. “Usually it will last seven to 10 days. I usually recommend to parents, once the fever is broken for 24-hours and the blisters have healed up, those kids can go back to day care.”
Mostly young children get the disease. Adults can get it, but most have built an immunity to it over time.
And the best way to avoid it is washing your hands and cleaning surfaces that children touch.
“Bleach,” says Blackburn. “Bleach water is a great way to clean surfaces. The virus that causes it can live on surfaces for a time.”
The CDC says Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease can live on surfaces for a little more than 24 hours.
“Wash the hands, yes,” says Dr. Seery. “Wash. Soap and Water.”