A viral infection commonly found in infants and toddlers has made its way to the Florida State University campus, causing university officials to decide to cancel several events earlier in the week including fraternity rush activities.
School officials announced that several students at the school have been diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease. Spread through bodily contact, the disease causes blisters or legions to appear on the hands, feet, and inside the mouth, as well as a fever. There is no cure for the disease, which is more common in day-cares, kindergarten classrooms, and other places with small children, reports Caroline McMullen for The Tab.
"We are aware of more than a dozen cases so far," said Lesley Sacher, director of the FSU Health and Wellness Center in a university release.
The county health department was made aware of the situation as soon as the university found out. In addition, school officials plan to reach out to local restaurants and bars, advising them to sanitize their establishments.
The university has suggested to affected students that they isolate themselves as much as they can. Doctors have also stressed the importance of good hygiene, hand washing, and sanitation, reports Erika Fernandez for WCTV.
In order to contain the disease, school officials said they are wiping down infected dormitories with bleach as well as enacting "sanitation protocols for all public spaces on campus." It has been suggested to all living areas on campus that they disinfect and put out bottles of hand sanitizer, writes Jeffrey Schweers for The Tallahassee Democrat.
"Students should take the necessary precautions to sanitize their living and communal spaces including bathrooms," said Tom Jacobson, director of Environmental Health & Safety.
Because several fraternity members have contracted the disease, the school has decided to cancel all rush activities scheduled earlier this week as a precaution to limit the amount of exposure students have with HFMD. FSU spokeswoman Browning Brooks said that rush will continue as scheduled tonight.
The CDC states that HFMD is a "common viral illness" typically found among infants and children younger than five, although it can also occur in adults. While common symptoms include a skin rash, mouth sores, and fever, it is possible for adults to show no symptoms but still pass the disease onto others.
The disease is passed through physical contact with unwashed hands, coughing, or sneezing, or contact with blister fluid or surfaces that contain feces.
The CDC went on to say that large outbreaks of the disease are uncommon in the United States. The most common cause of the disease is the Coxsackie A16 virus.
People typically confuse HFMD with hoof-and-mouth disease, which is a different virus only affecting livestock.
Because HFMD is highly contagious, the school has stressed the important to students of taking extreme hygiene precautions until the outbreak has been handled. Officials said it takes about five days for the infection to run its course.