Children fall to infectious virus

By Chloe Johnson

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Dozens of dehydrated children are needing hospital treatment as a result of hand, foot and mouth disease.

Auckland Starship Hospital's emergency department has been treating up to 15 children, aged between 2 and 5, each week for almost a month.

Hand, foot and mouth is a contagious virus based in the intestine. It is not the same as the veterinary disease, foot and mouth.

Starship's director of child health Dr Richard Aickin said: "You go through long periods of time where you see very few and you get outbreaks from time to time, and we are in the middle of one of those outbreaks." Children affected often broke out in red blisters on the soles of feet, their hands, and in and around the mouth.

It was not considered serious but many children became dehydrated because the blisters made it painful to drink water, he said. "It is an infection most children have as they are growing up."

Royal Oak Childcare Centre manager Yi Fan said at least six children there were affected after one child caught it from a family member in Hamilton.

At the TVNZ Educare centre, manager Janine Kiely said four children had come down with the disease over a two-week period.

She said parents usually kept their children at home for at least three days to prevent it spreading, although that was not required under Ministry of Health guidelines.

It advised the child should only be sent home if he or she was feeling unwell, not because red spots were visible. "If a child needs Pamol, the child shouldn't be at the centre," Kiely said.

- Herald on Sunday

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