#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 13, 2020 — The Ministry of Health, Agriculture Sports and Human Services (MOHASHS) of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) wishes to inform the public that there have been reports of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) on Grand Turk.
The Primary Health Care Department is in the process of collecting specimens to be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for confirmatory testing. Primary Health has embarked on an enhanced surveillance and education campaign to ensure that suspected cases are identified as quickly as possible and schools and daycare facilities are educated on the proper implementation of prevention and hygiene measures (e.g. hand washing).
HFMD is a contagious viral illness that primarily affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. It is transmitted by direct contact with nasal secretions, (droplets produced by coughing or sneezing), saliva, fluid from blisters and stool of infected individuals. HFMD is most prevalent in child care settings due to frequent contact with soiled diapers and children putting their hands in their mouths. HFMD occasionally occurs in adolescents and adults.
Symptoms include some or all of the following: painful sores in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet, which may be associated with blisters, fever, headache, feeling generally unwell or irritable, runny nose, and/or sore throat. It is mostly a mild and self-limiting illness lasting for a few days.
However, there are more severe, albeit uncommon, forms of the disease which are associated with neurological complications as a result of meningitis (associated with fever, headache, and neck stiffness) and encephalitis (resulting in paralysis). Affected persons can sometimes be contagious for days or weeks after the symptoms have ended
There is no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Symptoms are controlled by the use of paracetamol (Panadol or Tylenol) for fever and pain relief, it is often all that is necessary. In some cases, HFMD can cause a sore mouth and throat, which makes it difficult to swallow. It is therefore important to maintain adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration that could result in hospitalization. Symptoms usually resolve within ten days.
Persons with suspected HFMD should abstain from school and report to a healthcare provider to obtain guidance, including when to return to work, school or daycare.
The MOHAHS will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate.
For more information on HFMD contact your primary health care provider or visit one of our primary health care clinics.