Holyoke schools reporting 14 cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is pretty common in preschools, but now, the highly contagious virus is spreading through older grades.
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 2:43 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Hand, foot, and mouth disease is pretty common in preschools, but now, the highly contagious virus is spreading through older grades. We found that one local school district is reporting over a dozen cases.

Although it sounds scary – hand, foot, and mouth - it sounds like a Halloween thing, but it’s not. It’s a common viral infection that can be dealt with,” said Dr. John Kelley with Redwood Pediatrics in East Longmeadow.

Kelley said it’s unclear why, but coxsackie - or hand, foot, and mouth disease - seems to pick up as the leaves change colors, he said it may have something to do with kids heading back to the classroom.

For example, Holyoke Public Schools told Western Mass News in a statement, in part:

“Since September 21, Holyoke Public Schools has had 14 reported cases of hand-foot-mouth disease within our schools. Four were isolated cases, while 10 cases were within two classrooms at one of our schools. We routinely share information about this illness with our families so they will understand what the disease is, its symptoms, how it spreads, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and how to prevent future cases.”

Kelley assured us that hand, foot, and mouth is no reason to panic. He said that most kids will get it at some point in their lives, usually before the age of five, but school age children and adults can catch it as well.

The symptoms start out similar to a cold, with coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and then they progress into a blistery rash around the hands, feet, and mouth. Kelley added that it spreads easily making it hard to stop the virus in its tracks.

When kids have coxsackie and they cough ad sneeze and they spread it through the air that way and also through the fecal-oral route because this virus is spread through feces as well,” Kelley explained.

He told us the spread of hand, foot, and mouth disease comes down to kids being kids.

They have a dirty diaper, they touch that area, touch a toy, and another kid touches the toy and, boom, the virus gets spread,” Kelley noted.

Kelley said usually, kids only get hospitalized when the sores in the mouth cause them to avoid fluids making them dehydrated, which is the key thing for parents and caregivers to look out for.

Think of any trick in the book: popsicles, little sips. They don’t have to be guzzling fluid, but little sips, little sips,” Kelley said.

He added that the symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth can be easily diagnosed by a doctor or pediatrician.

It slaps you in the face when you see it. You know it. It’s like looking at classic chicken pox back in the day,” Kelley added.

The best ways to stop the spread include regular hand washing, caution when changing diapers, cleaning toys regularly, don’t share cups and glasses, and don’t go out in public with open blisters.

Kelley said there is no treatment and the best thing you can do is provide comfort and care to your little one while they have the virus.