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DoH issues health advisory about spread of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In a health advisory yesterday, the Health Department informed the public of increasing cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), especially among school aged children.

“Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses,” the advisory said, noting that the symptoms of HFMD include: Fever, mouth sores, and a rash, which is commonly found on the hands and feet.

However, DoH said, there is currently “no vaccine available to protect against viruses” that cause HFMD.

The advisory explained that a person infected with HFMD is contagious, which means that they can pass the virus to other people through:

• nose and throat secretions, such as saliva, drool, or nasal mucus;

• fluid from blisters or scabs; and

• feces (poop)

According to the advisory, people with HFMD are usually most contagious during the first week that they are sick. People can sometimes spread the virus to others for days or weeks after symptoms go away or even if they have no symptoms at all.

“Because it is common and usually mild,” DoH said, “children can continue to go to child care and schools,” as long as they have no fever; have no uncontrolled mouth sores; and feel well enough to participate in classroom activities.

DoH offer this advice — you can help prevent catching or spreading hand, foot, and mouth disease by following these simple steps:

• wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

• always wash your hands: after changing diapers; after using the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; and before and after caring for someone who is sick.

For more information or questions call DoH command post at 219 or Surveillance Office at 782-8112.

No data was available in the DoH advisory as to the number of HFMD cases confirmed so far, but Samoa News received word in the past days from people who witnessed many school-age children at the hospital since late last week with possible HFMD because parents who were at the hospital were talking about it.