Mumbai schools worried about hand-foot-and-mouth disease cases among students

A school in Wadala, Mumbai, fumigated its classrooms during the weekend after some students were diagnosed with hand-food-and-mouth disease. Doctors in Mumbai confirmed that the city is seeing an outbreak of the viral disease, with children as young as three years being treated for the infection.

The disease, which is often seen in children more than adults, results in painful reddish blisters in the mouth, hands, feet, thighs and sometimes on the buttocks along with fever and sore throat.

Dr Fazal Nabi, paediatrician, who practices at three south Mumbai hospitals said he has seen fourteen cases in the last four weeks. “The blisters are present as vesicles along with mild fever. Although most cases I saw were not very severe, parents need to be careful by not sending the child to school, as it is contagious,” he said. The virus is airborne and also spreads through touch. It may last over a week, Dr Nabi added.

Dr Om Srivastava, a city-based infectious disease specialist said that he has seen two suspected cases of the disease. “The numbers of cases are definitely lesser than last year,” he said.

Schools where children were diagnosed with the condition have been taking precautionary measures to ensure that it does not spread. A parent, whose child goes to the Wadala school, who did not wish to be named, said two children in her child’s class were diagnosed with the condition, after which the school undertook major sanitation action.

“The school handled it very well. They informed all the parents, with the information about the disease, so no one panics,” she said.

However, disease experts said that fumigation is not very effective against the disease and the best way to stop transmission is to limit contact of the infected person with the public as infections spreads through touch. The disease is self-limiting and goes away on its own but symptoms, like blisters in the mouth that can make swallowing painful, and can cause distress.

“The problem is that it largely affects children and most parents are not aware that it is contagious. It is better to keep the child at home to stop the infection from spreading,” said a doctor.

Public health experts said there is no treatment for the disease, but the symptoms can be treated. “Ice pops can help soothe the sores in the mouth and help with the sore throat,” Dr Srivastava said.

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