(NBC News/LEX 18) – Hand, foot and mouth disease, an illness normally associated with children, is making an appearance on college campuses.
Health officials say the unusual outbreaks are marked by a particularly nasty set of symptoms that include the usual blisters in the mouth and on the hands and feet, but also on the genitals, NBC News reports.
Health officials in several states are testing samples to determine which virus is responsible. Several different viruses, including coxsackie viruses and enteroviruses such as EV-A71, can cause the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease.
Outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease are common in the fall, winter and spring, especially at elementary schools and daycare centers. Small children are especially susceptible because they have never been exposed before to the viruses that cause it.
So far, there have been at least seven cases on college campuses in our area. One at Eastern Kentucky University and at least six at the University of Kentucky, three of which were students.
“A patient is usually going to present with a sore throat or sore mouth first,” said UK University Health Services Medical Director Dr. Ann Hays.
Hays said that the patients she’s seen on UK’s campus don’t have her too worried.
“I would consider this an upper respiratory infection, like a cold. I wouldn’t, I don’t think it’s any reason for panic. It’s a got a cool name and a cool presentation,” said Hays. “If your hand or foot rash has blisters, which they sometimes do, and you were to touch things and the vesicular fluid gets on something, you would need to clean that surface off, so Clorox wipes after you lift weights for instance, or, wipe off your computer with an antibacterial, antiviral wipe.”
Hays said to stay hydrated and keep your hands clean if you get hand, foot, and mouth disease.