Hand, Foot & Mouth Virus Reported at Two Natomas Schools

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Updated 9 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2013

Publisher’s note: Shortly after this article went online, we were contacted by the family of a student who attends Bannon Creek Elementary School in the Natomas Unified School District. The family member reports the youngster went to the doctor last week with what was thought to be strep throat. “A few days later, we called back because she had a fever and blisters on her hands and feet. The doctor told us that she had HFMD and did not have strep. She was to stay home for 10 days or until the rash went away. The school was notified.” Seeing as it is after business hours, we are unable to confirm that a student at a third school has been affected by the hand, foot and mouth disease virus with district officials at this time.

The Natomas Unified School District today sent home a letter with all its students warning of hand, foot, and mouth disease more than a week after illnesses related to the virus were first reported to school officials.

A ConnectEd telephone call to homes of Natomas students is also scheduled for this evening, sources said.

Today’s letter follows on the heels of similar communication to Natomas Charter School families on Wednesday, Dec. 11 and Natomas Park Elementary School families on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 9 and 10.

Reports of students with hand, foot, and mouth disease were first received at Natomas Park Elementary School following the Thanksgiving break on Dec. 2, according to school district officials. That’s when parents of five students, in five different grade levels, said they notified the school their children were absent because they were sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

A week later, on Monday, Dec. 9, a Natomas Park second grader went home early from school. He developed the rash associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease the following day, his mother said.

To date, at least 10 Natomas Park Elementary students from nine different classrooms, and seven different families, have been affected by the illness in recent weeks.

The Natomas Unified School District had all 38 classrooms and common areas at Natomas Park disinfected Wednesday night, according to spokesperson Jim Sanders. Custodians will also be wiping down frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and faucets, he added.

“Soon, we will have hand sanitizers at key locations in all schools,” Sanders said. “We’ll also ask teachers to instruct students about proper hand-washing practices.”

As of Wednesday morning, Natomas Charter had received one confirmed case of a student also affected by the virus, according to a Dec. 11 letter home from student affairs director Patrick Broughton.

“Since our students may have siblings enrolled in District schools, I thought it best to notify you of any potential concerns you may have,” he wrote.

Sacramento County health officials and infectious disease specialists with Kaiser Permanente said they were not aware of an increase in hand, foot and mouth disease cases in the Sacramento area. News outlets have reported cases of children affected by the virus in Michigan, Florida, New York and Massachusetts since mid-November.

“If providers are seeing more of it, this might just be the seasonal variation in the disease incidents,” Sacramento County public health spokesperson Laura McCasland said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash.

“The virus is transmitted by direct contact, and symptoms can include fever, rash, mouth sores, loss of appetite, and sore throat,” reads the letter issued by the Natomas Unified School District today, Dec. 12.

Parents from multiple Natomas Park Elementary families, with children affected by the virus, questioned what they perceived as a delay when others at their school had not been notified about the virus a week after it was first reported. A city spokesperson said the 4th R program at Natomas Park Elementary was not notified about the virus-related illnesses until Tuesday, Dec. 10.

At the time, school district officials cited a practice which only prompts notices home when two or more students in the same classroom have been diagnosed with the same illness; they also pointed to the lack of written notice from a doctor of infected students.

“If my staff fully knew and understood there were multiple cases, not just one family, we should have responded earlier,” school district Superintendent Chris Evans said. “All I can do is say I’m sorry we didn’t respond fast enough. I would rather err on the side of over communication.”

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enteroviru genus, a group of viruses which includes polioviruses, coxsackievireses, echoviruses and enteroviruses.

Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the United States, but other other coxsackieviruses have been associated with the illness. Enterovirus 71 has also been associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease and outbreaks of this disease.

People can sometimes be contagious for days or weeks after symptoms go away. Some people, especially adults, who get infected with the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease may not develop any symptoms. However, they may still be contagious.

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Speak Your Mind