The number of reported cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus continues to grow, and the Maryland Department of Health has now classified the situation as an outbreak. At least 95 cases have been reported since early September, according to university health officials.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by an enterovirus, usually coxsackieviruses. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, and fatigue, potentially followed by tell-tale blisters or sores inside the mouth as well as a rash or blisters on the hands and/or feet.
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.
Earlier today, Roanna Kessler, director of the Homewood Student Health and Wellness Center, sent a message to students, faculty, and staff noting that the health center continues to see new cases of the illness on campus. Her message included the following tips on how to prevent further spread of the virus:
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is symptomatic
- Avoid sharing cups, dishes, and utensils with anyone, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
Students who have been diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease should:
- Limit exposure to other people, common areas, items, and surfaces immediately after symptoms begin and for up to seven days after the blister/rash appears
- Frequently disinfect commonly-touched items and surfaces
- Avoid going to events, parties, bars, or areas where there will be a large gathering of people
More information about hand, foot, and mouth disease is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Kessler urged students who exhibit symptoms to visit the health center's website and fill out a tracking form so that the university can provide assistance and extra cleaning.