The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning childcare providers about a recent increase in Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases in Regina.
A letter was sent to daycares in the city earlier this month asking the centres to contact Public Health if two or more cases are identified at the facility within a one-week period.
Upwards of eight kids at Whitmore Park Child Care Co-operative have caught HFMD in the last few weeks, according to supervisor Marissa Owens. She said she has reported all the cases to the SHA.
“It’s pretty typical to have that amount (of HFMD cases) usually, because it travels quite quickly from kid to kid,” Owens said.
“We’ve had some cases where it’s been very mild with one or two dots on the hands, and we’ve had some where it’s been more severe.”
According to the SHA, symptoms of HFMD include a fever, sore throat, sores or blisters around or inside the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet.
It typically takes three to five days for a person to get symptoms after being exposed to the virus, the SHA said, and most people recover without complications within 10 days.
“It’s as contagious as a cold,” said Dr. Athena McConnell, a pediatric infectious disease physician.
The increase in cases is expected, she said, as the virus responsible for HFMD is typically active this time of year.
McConnell said most symptoms can be managed at home with Tylenol or Advil. However, there is a risk of dehydration if babies or young kids find it painful to swallow.
The doctor recommends parents feeding their sick kids food that will help soothe their throat and provide moisture such as jello or popsicles.
If parents suspect their child is suffering from dehydration, McConnell said they should take them to a doctor or the emergency room to be assessed.
Owens said COVID-19 cleaning protocols are still in place at the daycare, including disinfecting toys, high-touch surfaces and tables. However, she has noticed an increase in other viruses and illnesses coming into the daycare since other COVID-19 protocols and behaviours have lifted.
“Those two messages, wash your hands often and stay home when you’re sick, have played such a huge role with respect to limiting a lot of infections,” McConnell said.
“When we relax that thinking then we will see more infections being spread in locations not just in daycares.”
HFMD typically infects young children, McConnell said. However, older kids and adults can get the virus, too. The doctor recommends those with infected family members wash their hand frequently.