Hand, Foot, Mouth strikes LT


Spiro Kass, Business manager

From the start of the 2016-2017 school year, the LT health service team has been detecting various cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, or HFMD, in several students. It was not until recently that it became a growing concern.

“Fortunately, this is a virus that is most often not considered something that is going to result in any kind of long term problem for the person,” SC nurse Julie Loftus said. “However, it is not pleasant.”

Ever since Aug. 26, there have been over a dozen diagnoses of students at NC and SC with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, which is a viral illness that is usually accompanied with a fever, sore throat, loss of appetite, and a break out of either a rash or blisters mainly in the areas around the patient’s hands and feet, Loftus said.

The new escalation of HFMD requires certain precautions in order to control the spread, which is the entirety of the health service team’s focus, Loftus said.

“What we are now doing is called active surveillance, meaning I am on the lookout for any signs of Hand, Foot, and Mouth in our students,” Loftus said. “With the help of my assistant, Cynthia Murray, our goal is to identify as many cases as we can to try to keep the majority of LT HFMD free.”

Along with the nurse’s office, other LT staff teams are doing their best to decrease the amount of diagnoses, including the custodians who attend to high-touch surfaces and ensure washrooms and locker rooms are adequately stocked with soap and paper towels, principal Brian Waterman said in his LTHS Health Office Alert.

Not only do staff members express their concern, but LT students also share the nervousness about the spreading disease, including LT student and swimmer Madison Wanless ‘18.

“I use hand sanitizer in every class, and I do not touch the railings while walking down the stairs,” Wanless said. “Even in swim, I am scared to walk barefoot on the pool deck in the case of being infected by Hand, Foot and Mouth.”

As worry spreads between all LT students and staff, Loftus reminds everyone of a couple simple things that can be done to help eliminate the spread of HFMD. The most important thing is to use good handwashing techniques. When washing your hands, get every surface, use soap, really scrub your hands, and sing the happy birthday song twice in your head, Loftus said. Also, do not share water bottles or utensils because HFMD spreads mainly through saliva or skin contact.

The health services does not know when this disease will die down, Loftus said. Nurses would like all LT students to keep to themselves for the next few weeks to defeat HFMD.