Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease breaks out in Ionia Public Schools

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IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — There are seven confirmed cases, along with a possible 10 more, of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Ionia County according to the health department.

Although health officials aren’t calling this an ‘outbreak’ at this stage, they say this is a critical time to practice good hygiene-namely, wash your hands-to help stop the virus from spreading.

Last Friday, Ionia Public Schools sent out a robocall to about 3,000 registered families disclosing about five schools have confirmed cases of the virus. Those schools mailed home letters with information.

“Wash your hands often, make sure you’re washing your hands properly 25 to 30 seconds warm or hot water with soap, and especially if you’re changing diapers make sure you’re practicing good hand-washing techniques,” said Ken Bowen, Ionia County Health Department officer.

The highly contagious virus typically affects children five-years-old and younger, though adults can still contract it. The virus causes painful blisters inside the mouth, on the palms, and soles of the feet. Though it’s painful to swallow, Bowen says it’s critical to keep your child hydrated.

The virus spreads from any contact with the blisters or nasal fluid, saliva, and feces. In the feces particularly the virus can live and spread up to 11 weeks after symptoms pass. The virus is contagious when a fever and fluid-like blisters are present.

So, other good advice for parents and those affected alike: “If you’re sick stay home,” Bowen said.

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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