PAEDIATRICIANS HAVE urged authorities to refrain from shutting schools or panicking over hand-foot-and-mouth disease – a viral infection which is contagious but self-limiting. Recently an international pre-school had decided to remain shut for a week as a precautionary measure after cases were reported with the viral infection.
Dr Umesh Vaidya, in charge of the neo-natal intensive care unit at KEM hospital which has seen more than 40 cases in the last two months, appealed to schools and parents to avoid any kind of panic over this viral infection. “Paracetamol is usually given to the children who have fever and develop sores in the mouth and on hands, feet and at times buttocks and legs. The illness, however, does not last more than a week, and there is no reason for panic,” he stressed.
According to Dr Pramod Jog, national president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, there are several cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease in the city. “In a busy Out Patient Department (OPD) of 50 people, at least five to seven are children with this viral infection,” Jog said. It is an entero-virus and a doctor can tell the child has the disease by the symptoms and looking at the sores and blisters. Tests are not usually needed. Parents should refrain from giving antibiotics, he said.
Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar, who heads the paediatric department at D Y Patil hospital, said the virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Often, the disease breaks out within a community and this trend has been persistent for the last few years. However it is important to understand that it is a self-limiting illness, he added.
Mahek Soneji, resident of Fatima Nagar whose four-year-old daughter is suffering from the infection said that she has not been sending her daughter to school for fear of spreading the infection. “I was told that the kids generally get it in school as it is contagious and since they sit and play together, it spreads easily. Though I am aware it is a self-limiting disease but the spike in fever and irritation of child does worry us,” she said.
Kamla Bisht, director of Sanskriti School in NIBM Road where at least two parents said their children have got infected with HFM said the school was yet to be informed. “However, at the beginning of the academic year itself we inform parents not to send kids to school if such a thing occurs. We ask parents not to panic as we see the cases every year during monsoon but to stop its spread, one just needs to isolate the kids,” she said.
Nisha Uttarwar, another parent from Wanowrie said that although her daughter was not affected, almost all children at the pre-school where her daughter studies had contracted the infection. “Luckily she escaped it but all the parents were getting angry when the kids started getting it. It is very painful for the children and it upsets parents. Though as of today I think, the infection phase is over and cases have subsided.”