Viral illness that affects children spreading in Virginia, doctors warn

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Childcare providers and parents across Virginia are being advised about a contagious virus that’s spreading among children. 

A letter sent out by the Central Shenandoah Health District on Wednesday warns that cases of hand, foot and mouth disease have elevated in recent weeks. 

10 On Your Side checked with a Chesapeake pediatrician.  Dr. Robert Fink says he is seeing five or six new cases a day.

The viral illness infects children up to age 5, but officials warn anyone is susceptible. 

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, a rash in the mouth, on the palms or soles, and sometimes painful sores.  

Dr. Fink says people are contagious for several weeks, even after the rash is gone. 

“So that’s a big problem because when a child looks like they are better and they’re sent back to daycare or sent to parties they can still be potentially transmitting the virus, especially in their stools.”

“There were a total across the state of 376 emergency department and urgent care visits that a chief complaint or a diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth disease. Or, they had symptoms consistent with that of the diagnosis,” according to Laura Kornegay, the district’s health director. 

Dr. Kevin Connelly, a pediatrician with the Chippenham Hospital in Richmond told NBC affiliate WWBT the disease is highly contagious. 

“Runny nose,” Connelly told WWBT. “Saliva…so it’s very common in daycares and pre-school settings.”

The fever can last for up to five days, but there are other reasons to be concerned.

“The problem with the disease is that with the blisters in your mouth it hurts to swallow,” Dr. Connelly said. “So children don’t want to eat … don’t want to drink. They have a risk of getting dehydrated.” 

There’s no treatment for the virus, and it can remain in the body for weeks after symptoms have gone away, according to the Virginia Department of Health. 

For more information on the disease, click here. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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