Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak strikes Florida State Univ - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak strikes Florida State University

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(CNN) - Over the past week, Florida State University Health Services has identified more than a dozen cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, an illness commonly seen in children. No new cases of the contagious viral illness were reported Wednesday.

"We've seen less than 16 cases on-site," Director of University Health Services Lesley Sacher said, adding that she was aware of more students who either called without coming in or were seen by a health care provider elsewhere in the community.

The outbreak began as "a trickle" on Monday, Sacher said, noting that the infection is more common in day care centers than on college campuses. However, cases occur with regularity on college campuses, according to the American College Health Association.

"Anybody who has had a child has generally seen their child come home with blisters in their mouth," she said.

Along with painful mouth sores, hand, foot and mouth disease causes fever and a skin rash on both the hands and the feet.

Hand, foot and mouth is "due to a virus that lives in the intestines, and it is very contagious," said William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University. He noted that late summer and early fall are when enteroviruses -- those related to the intestines -- seem to spread readily.

That said, Dr. Christopher Houts of Powell Pediatric Care in Ohio said he's seen more cases this year than anytime in his 21 years as a pediatrician. While patients usually begin to come in during the summer, this year, they've arrived at his community practice early, beginning in the spring.

"You are contagious before you are ill and during the illness, but undoubtedly people have the virus in their intestinal tract who never get ill," Schaffner said. He explained that there are also people who become infected but don't have symptoms, though they can spread the illness.

"The week before, we had the hurricane," Sacher said, "so we're thinking days without electricity, hot, humid conditions make germs very happy."

Read the full story on CNN.

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