The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services has alerted the public to a surge in Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases in Dominica. The first suspected case was identified in the first week of October, leading to a swift response from the Environmental Health Department. Since then, suspected cases have emerged in five out of seven health districts, primarily affecting children under the age of six.
HFMD is a prevalent childhood illness which commonly affects children under five however, it can also afflict older children and adults, causing mild to moderate discomfort and concern.
Symptoms of HFMD typically manifest three to seven days after exposure to the virus and include fever, sore throat, rashes on the hands and feet, and painful mouth blisters. Some individuals may also experience a loss of appetite, irritability, and general malaise.
The disease spreads easily through close contact with bodily fluids, including saliva, nasal discharge, blister fluid, or fecal matter. Hence, adhering to good personal hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces is crucial.
To contain the spread of HFMD, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services recommends that parents keep symptomatic children at home, especially if they exhibit high fever, dehydration, difficulty swallowing, or worsening symptoms. Although there is no specific treatment or vaccine for HFMD, most individuals recover within seven to ten days with proper care, rest, and adequate fluid intake. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services is actively monitoring the situation, collaborating with healthcare providers and the Ministry of Education to manage cases and prevent further transmission.