Vital Signs: Prevent viral outbreaks

By Anna Kellaher
Columnist

Since early September, students at Johns Hopkins University and Lehigh University have been facing outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease, according to The Wall Street Journal. As of Oct. 19, Johns Hopkins reported more than 100 cases and Lehigh reported 116. Princeton University has also seen eight cases.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread through bodily fluids. (Twitter)

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that starts with a fever, sore throat and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After one to two days, it causes a skin rash of small, red spots on the palms, knees, elbows as well as painful blisters in the mouth and back of the throat.

According to the CDC, the disease is easily spread because there is a period when a carrier of the virus has not developed symptoms yet, but is already contagious. The disease is caused by a subgroup of viruses called enteroviruses. They are spread through bodily fluids, including saliva, mucus, stool and fluid from the mouth sores.

While there are no reported cases of HFMD at the College, it is good practice to follow these tips from Johns Hopkins University to prevent the spread of any virus: wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and avoid sharing drinks, utensils or chapstick with anybody, even if they do not seem sick. If you start to feel sick, minimize contact with other people and avoid crowded events.