The Ministry of Health Friday revealed that there have been sporadic outbreaks over the past few weeks of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), which mainly affects children.
In a statement issued by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), the ministry therefore called on parents, guardians and teachers to take all necessary precautions to curtail its spread.
Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Leslie Rollock recommended that children be made to wash their hands frequently.
She also suggested regular cleaning of dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys, first with soap and water and then disinfecting them by cleansing with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by adding one tablespoon of bleach to four cups of water).
Rollock also urged nurseries and schools to assist by employing these practices and working with children to avoid close contact, including kissing, hugging, and sharing eating utensils or cups with others who have HFMD.
Symptoms of the viral illness include fever, malaise, sore mouth and a rash. Mouth lesions appear on the inside surfaces of the cheeks and gums, and on the sides of the tongue. Raised pink spots that develop into blisters may persist for seven to ten days and can also occur as a rash, especially on the palms, fingers, soles and on the buttocks.
Health officials say the illness is not to be confused with Foot and Mouth Disease, which is a disease of animals. HFMD occurs mainly in children under ten years old but adult cases are not uncommon.
The virus is spread by direct contact with nasal and throat secretions or faeces of the infected person. It can also be transmitted by coughing and sneezing.