The Student Health & Wellness Center (SHWC) has reported cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) over the past few weeks. HFMD is caused by a virus that can be spread through sneezing, coughing and close contact. On Sept. 7 SHWC posted a detailed description of the disease and preventative measures on their website.
SHWC Medical Director Dr. Roanna Kessler described HFMD’s symptoms in an email to The News-Letter. She wrote that HFMD typically includes sores in the mouth, a rash on the hands and feet, and sometimes a fever.
She added that students are the most contagious during the first week of the illness, so she recommends that during this time, infected students avoid other people to prevent transmitting the disease.
“The most important thing you can do to prevent infection is wash your hands often with soap and water,” she wrote. “You can also wipe down high touch surfaces (such as doorknobs) with disinfectant wipes.”
Students exposed to this virus can potentially face the problem of falling behind in their academics and extracurricular activities.
Sophomore Olivia Brown wrote in an email to The News-Letter that she was able to go to class while she was ill but felt miserable the whole time.
She wrote that when she went to class, she sat as far away from everyone as possible, adding that it was challenging to take notes because she had blisters on her hands.
“I went from my room to class and then back to my room for two days,” she wrote. “That entire weekend I quarantined myself.”
She wrote that the disease was also difficult to deal with because she was supposed to instruct a Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club (JHOC) sailing trip but had to step down because she felt so sick.
According to the SHWC website, students can relieve their symptoms by taking over-the-counter painkillers and fever reducers. Kessler wrote that although HFMD makes it incredibly painful to swallow, it is important that students stay well hydrated.
“People should make sure to drink plenty of fluids such as water or sports drinks and can eat cold items (like popsicles) or soft foods (like pudding),” she wrote.
SHWC stated on its website that individuals who cannot swallow enough liquids to avoid dehydration may need an IV.
In her email, Kessler highly encouraged students who experience HFMD symptoms to stay home from class. She encourages students to schedule an appointment online or contact SHWC at (410) 516-8270 if they have any concerns.