West Virginia University had a fan appreciation day scheduled for Sunday but postponed it because five players have confirmed cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease. ESPN reports that the university did not disclose which players had fallen ill. If a later date becomes available, the school will reschedule the event. Athletic Director Shane Lyons explained the decision.
“I know fans who were planning on attending Fan Day will be disappointed, but this is in the best interest of all involved. Our medical staff is doing an excellent job of addressing the matter. However, there is no reason to put the general public at risk.”
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is highly contagious but is not generally a dangerous ailment. It’s a viral infection that presents with sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. It usually runs its course in a few days.
There seems to have been a higher number of cases of HFMD in the news this year. Forbes reports that Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia have all reported outbreaks. Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets and J.A. Happ of the New York Yankees have both been pulled from team rosters for the illness.
There are three enteroviruses that cause HFMD: Coxsackievirus (CV) A16, enterovirus (EV) 17, and the newly emerging Coxsackievirus (CV) A6. It’s most common in children under the age of five and is transmitted through saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, blister fluid, and feces of those already infected or through water contaminated by any of the above from those already infected. Basic hygiene including frequent hand washing is typically the recommended manner of prevention.
Like many viruses, symptoms don’t usually appear right away. It’s normally about four to six days after infection that signs emerge. Fatigue and sometimes fever are often the first symptoms followed by painful fluid-filled lesions that look like blisters. As indicated by the disease’s name, these show up on the infected person’s hands and feet and in their mouth. They last up to 10 days. Also like many viruses, there isn’t a cure, and treatment involves relieving symptoms until the virus runs its course.
In most cases, there are no complications, but the loss of fingernails or toenails can occur, and in rare cases, the infection has spread to the brain causing encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which could lead to meningitis. Paralysis or even death are possible but rare.