Outbreak of hand-foot-and-mouth disease sickens 50 at Dartmouth

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Dartmouth College says about 50 people on campus have come down with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a sometimes-painful condition that is most typically seen in children.

Mark Reed, director of Dartmouth College Health Service, said the school has alerted the student, faculty and staff of the outbreak and been in touch with state health officials, who confirmed the illness is prevalent in the Upper Valley and the region.

“We have had some students who were more uncomfortable, and they were able to stay in our infirmary for a few days to get care,” he said. “We haven’t had any students need to stay in our infirmary since last week.”

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral illness that generally lasts a week to 10 days. It is transmitted by saliva and body fluids. There is no vaccine or treatment for the condition itself, although over-the-counter medications can relieve pain and fever.

Symptoms also include decreased appetite and sore throat. Most people who get the illness have mild or no symptoms at all, although in severe cases, sores and blisters can develop in the mouth and on hands and feet. 

Reed said the best way to prevent the condition is frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoiding close physical contact with those who may have the illness.

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