It was only yesterday that the Ministry of Health released an updated list of childcare centres in Singapore with more than 10 Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases. With each case, one can't help but worry about how we can keep our children from contracting this infectious disease.
In her post, Filipino mummy Madelyn Bercasio Gurango wrote that they had just left the clinic after her son's monthly check-up that day. But instead of heading home, she decided to take Clark to the mall for a nice treat.
When they got there, she took him straight to the playhouse so that he could play with all the other kids. They didn't go anywhere else after that and went straight home.
The following day, while Madelyn was still at work, she received a worried call from her mum who was taking care of her son.
She said Clark had a high fever, so Madelyn decided to leave work to go home and check on him. Indeed his fever was very high and the thermometer registered at 39°C. Thinking it was just a regular fever, Madelyn did not take him to the doctor but remained on fever watch the whole night.
In the morning, Clark's fever was gone and she figured she would be able to return to work. But no sooner had she thought that, when she noticed some pox-like rashes on her toddler's feet and legs. He also had some on his hand as well as his mouth!
Worried, she quickly rushed him to the doctor.
Her Son Contracted HFMD from Playgrounds
The doctor confirmed that Clark contracted HFMD or Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, commonly caused by the coxsackie virus.
It also spreads easily through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters. The incubation period before symptoms start showing is three to six days. It usually starts off with fever, followed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite.
This is then followed by painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks. Some children might even have a red rash that doesn't itch, or blisters on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks.
The blisters on her son's body were extremely raw, and he only started feeling better after a whole week of medications and creams. Madelyn thinks that her son contracted HFMD from the playground that day. The doctor told her to avoid public areas as it is extremely contagious. Children can easily contract HFMD from playgrounds as well as crowded places.
Important Things to Note
- If your child has HFMD, please keep them at home and do not send them to school or daycare. Also avoid crowded places. Quarantine them at home for at least one week to 10 days after the start of the disease.
- Remember to practise good general hygiene. Wash your hands immediately after contact with the infected child. The same goes for when you're changing diapers, and before handling food – make sure your hands are clean. The virus can continue to be shed in stools for up to 12 weeks.
- DO isolate the infected child's toys, eating utensils, and other personal items so that the disease does not spread to other children in the house.
We hope that after reading this story, parents will be more aware of how easily their children can catch HFMD from playgrounds and public areas. If there is a hike in cases in your area, try some at home activities instead of taking them to public playgrounds. Always make it a habit to sanitise or wash your children's hands in public places. Even simple steps like these can help to prevent the spread. For more information about HFMD, log on to hpb.gov.sg/infectiousdiseases.