Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Seeing Increase in Cases of Virus

WHEELING, WV – The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is issuing a notice to the community concerning a common virus known as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

The health department has been notified by area physicians, emergency rooms and other healthcare providers of an increase in the number of cases in the community. The virus is not a required reportable disease in West Virginia unless part of a larger cluster of cases or confirmed outbreak.

At this time there is no known source or confirmed outbreak of HFMD is the community, however the number of reports has steadily increased. Hand, Food and Mouth Disease is a common community virus and is easily spread from person to person and typically affects children younger than five.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group), including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.

  • Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of HFMD in the United States, but other coxsackieviruses can also cause the illness.
  • Enterovirus 71 has also been associated with cases and outbreaks of HFMD.       Less often, enterovirus 71 has been associated with severe disease, such as encephalitis.

The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in an infected person’s:

  • nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus),
  • blister fluid, and
  • feces (stool).

An infected person may spread the viruses that cause HFMD to another person through:

  • close personal contact,
  • the air (through coughing or sneezing),
  • contact with feces,
  • contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.

For example, you might get infected by kissing someone who has HFM or by touching a doorknob that has viruses on it then touching your eyes, mouth or nose.

It is possible to get infected with the viruses that cause HFMD if you swallow recreational water, such as water in swimming pools. However, this is not very common. This is more likely to happen if the water becomes contaminated with feces from a person who has HFMD and is not properly treated with chlorine.

Generally, a person with HFMD is most contagious during the first week of illness. People can sometimes be contagious for days or weeks after symptoms go away. Some people, especially adults, may not develop any symptoms, but they can still spread the virus to others. This is why people should always try to maintain good hygiene (e.g. handwashing) so they can minimize their chance of spreading or getting infections.

You should stay home while you are sick with HFMD. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are not sure when you should return to work or school. The same applies to children returning to daycare. Children with HFMD should be kept home from daycare or school until their fever goes away and their mouth sores have healed. Adults with illness should stay home from work until symptoms resolve.

Everyone in the household of a person with HFMD should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, or having any contact with nose and throat discharge, stool, or blister fluid. Toys and surfaces should first be washed with soap and water, and then cleaned with a dilute solution of bleach (add ¼ cup bleach to one gallon of water).

HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals. For more information call the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at (304) 234-3682 or visit our website at www.ohiocountyhealth.com .