November 22, 2018

College campuses facing Hand, Foot and Mouth outbreak

By Taylor Smith —

A disease that has largely avoided U of L students has spread through many college campuses across the east coast.

Recently, college campuses across the United States have been experiencing an outbreak of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFM).

The disease rarely affects adults, but in residence halls and apartment complexes, infections and sicknesses can spread easily.

A specific strain of HFM called Cosakie A6 is responsible for many cases at universities. It is unknown why this strain is affecting so many young adults.

Dr. Phillip Bressoud, U of L executive director of student health services, said, “[HFM spreads] by direct contact with an infected individual, respiratory droplets generated when the patient coughs or handling of items that infected individual has handled.”

He said the infection generally affects children under the age of ten and spreads in the summer and fall.

HFM is a “generalized viral infection caused by the Cosakie or Enterovirus families,” Bressoud said.

Symptoms of HFM may begin with something simple, such as a fever or sore throat, but it can progress to more serious symptoms like oral ulcers, blisters on the palms of the hands and feet or even the knees, elbows and buttocks.

“Painful blisters eventually develop inside the mouth, making eating and drinking difficult,” Bressoud said.

Because there is no specific treatment for the disease, Bressoud said the management of symptoms is a doctor’s main concern when dealing with an HFM patient. Staying hydrated and using creams to relieve discomfort from the rash is the best treatment.

He said the best way for students and staff to avoid transmission of diseases is to be sure to wash their hands thoroughly, often and avoid sharing food or drink with others.

Graphic By Shayla Kerr/ The Louisville Cardinal 

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