Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease Outbreak Rocks University Of Illinois Campus

Tara Dodrill

Hand, foot, and mouth disease has hit the University of Illinois campus. College officials revealed more than 60 cases of the highly contagious rash have afflicted students since the fall semester began.

The hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak at the University of Illinois might have peaked, according to statements by local health officials. The latest health scare on the Illinois campus came on the heels of a massive mumps outbreak earlier this semester, the Champaign News-Gazette reports. Florida State University and a handful of other college campuses scattered about the United States have also been battling cases of the skin rash since the school year began, Fox News reports.

— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) October 19, 2016

Rachella Thompson, the communicable disease investigator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, told reporters the University of Illinois outbreak is the first time she has seen a hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak affect college students.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease hit rural southern Ohio hard in late July. Children seemed to contract and spread the skin rash when visiting county fairs and street festivals, which occurred back-to-back in Vinton, Athens, Ross, and Jackson Counties. The rash peaked by early August but has now surfaced again in the same region.

The skin rash is typically contracted by children age five and younger, but HFMD can obviously be spread to adults as well. Hand, foot, and mouth disease routinely begins with painful sores on the feet and hands as blisters form inside the mouth. A fever and common cold symptoms also often occur in hand, foot, and mouth disease patients.

The rash spreads via sneezing, kissing, coughing, or touching surfaces and objects which have been previously touched by an infected person. Frequent and thorough hand washing is recommended to avoid contracting the disease.

Children tend to contract the disease quickly after an outbreak occurs at a babysitter's home, a day care center, school, church, or when attending recreational functions together. A single toy or doorknob touched by a child in the early stages of the skin rash could ultimately impact a dozen others who play with the same item.

— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) October 18, 2016

Common over the counter pain medication is often recommended to help patients deal with the discomfort caused by hand, foot, and mouth disease. Numbing mouth gels are also typically used by patients to help reduce pain sparked by the mouth sores. The mouth sores may cause patients, especially young children, to avoid eating and drinking. Health experts urged caregivers to watch for signs of dehydration in patients.

Sometimes toenail and fingernail loss occur several weeks after an outbreak, but the nails typically regrow in a small amount of time. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is reportedly commonly caused by either the Coxsackievirus A16 or Enterovirus 71 bacteria group.

[Featured Image by Shutterstock.com]