The Homewood Student Health and Wellness Center has seen a higher than usual number of students with hand, foot and mouth disease, a common viral illness marked by fever, sore throat, fatigue, and tell-tale sores in the mouth and rash on the hands and feet, university officials announced on Thursday. There have been more than 40 reported cases so far, they said.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by an enterovirus, usually coxsackieviruses. It is transmitted by close personal contact, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. It is easy to spread the virus to others without knowing, especially since it can be transmitted for weeks after a person recovers. New cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease are still being diagnosed at the Health and Wellness Center on a daily basis, which indicates ongoing transmission.
This means that good hand hygiene and environmental disinfection are of the utmost importance. University officials ask that the Johns Hopkins community follow some simple steps to reduce the spread of this illness:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as laptop keyboards and desks, with disinfecting wipes.
- Avoid close contact with people who have hand, foot, and mouth disease and do not share objects with them.
- If you have a fever or open sores in your mouth, stay home from class until your symptoms have resolved for at least 24 hours.
University faculty have been asked to be understanding if a student must miss classes or assignments due to illness.
Not everyone infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease will get all of the symptoms, and even people who show no symptoms can still pass the virus to others. Most infected people will have a mild course, but a small proportion of cases can be more severe.
There is no specific treatment, but over-the-counter medications can be taken to relieve pain and fever, and mouth pain can be treated with mouthwashes or numbing sprays. It is important for people with hand, foot, and mouth disease to drink plenty of liquids, even when it hurts to swallow.
Individuals who believe they may be showing the symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease should contact their physician or visit their school's wellness center: