Nineteen students at Princeton University have been diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) since September 17, according to a university spokesperson.
Symptoms of HFMD include fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and malaise, with sores developing in the mouth one to two days later. A skin rash may also appear on the hands and feet.
HFMD is caused by viruses in the Enterovirus genus. A person infected by the virus can spread it through close personal contact, coughing, sneezing, contact with feces, and contaminated surfaces.
Usually, HFMD affects children younger than age five years, though it can affect adults. Adults with HFMD may not show any symptoms but are still capable of transmitting the virus.
The condition is generally mild, with most cases resolving in seven to 10 days without medical treatment.
No vaccine is available to prevent HFMD, but people can take precautions to reduce their risk of contracting the disease. To lower the risk of infection, people should wash their hands often, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and avoid close contact with anyone infected with HFMD.
Patients diagnosed with HFMD are most contagious during the first week of infection. Anyone diagnosed is advised to stay at home during this period.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, only one case of HFMD was reported at Princeton University. School officials are still unclear on what caused this recent outbreak.
- Merriman A. Outbreak of hand, food, and mouth disease reported at Princeton University. NJ.com. http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/10/outbreak_of_hand_foot_and_mouth_disease_reported_a.html. October 20, 2015. Accessed October 21, 2015.
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html. Updated September 18, 2015. Accessed October 21, 2015.
This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor