Epidemiologist within the Government of the Virgin Islands, Harmony Brewley has announced that the outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth disease that was affecting children in the Territory has subsided.
Reports of new cases of the infection are fading, Brewley announced on December 5.
The announcement was made by Brewley during the Umoja radio program that was hosted by Cromwell ‘Edju En Ka’ Smith, and aired on ZBVI radio. During the interview the epidemiologist explained that the Territory was still seeing hand-foot-and-mouth infections. However, the numbers are said to have declined significantly.
While emphasizing that the Territory was not out of the woods as it relates to infections, Brewley said, “We are still having active transmission of the disease, but thank God; thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Health, Environmental Health, Health Services Authority and the daycares; Ministry of Education as well we started to see a decline in the number of cases.”
The epidemiologist also explained that the sensitization sessions that were collaboratively conducted played a role in the reduction of the disease.
During October the Territory was placed on alert. By the first week of November it was announced that there were approximately 76 cases of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease specifically involving children in the various daycares in the Territory.
During the peak of the situation on November 4, Brewley announced in a radio interview that health officials were working to address the situation.
During the programme on Thursday night Brewley once again repeated that parents and caregivers should be mindful that the virus stays in the body after the physical lesions had disappeared.
This is a message that the epidemiologist emphasized during the height of the infections. Back in her November interview she stated that there are misconceptions relating to what the virus is, how long it stays in the body because some persons believe once the 10 days are up or once the lesions or blisters have dried up that's it.
"The virus actually stays in the feces for up to four to eight weeks so that’s why sometimes you may have what we call secondary cases or close contact coming down with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth, because they still maybe changing the diapers and not practicing strict hand hygiene measures. What happens is that they then contract Hand-Foot-and-Mouth although the child is not showing visible symptoms,” Brewley said.
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