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Hand, Foot and Mouth Outbreaks Strike Facilities


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
Woman covering mouth to prevent illness

As if a resurgence of Legionnaires’ disease isn’t enough, facility managers also have to contend with outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease. Several high-profile clusters of the disease in recent weeks no doubt have sent managers in institutional and commercial facilities scrambling to review their organizations’ emergency preparedness plans for such situation.

The largest outbreak so far occurred at Johns Hopkins University and has sickened at least 129 people at its Homewood campus, according to The Baltimore Sun. University officials have been aggressively warning students and faculty about the highly contagious disease. The spread of the disease can be prevented through hand washing and other efforts.

People who contract it can develop fever, sore throat, rash on the feet and palms of the hand, and sores in the mouth and throat. University officials have been warning people on campus about the outbreak, including posting lawn signs on the major quads on campus and displaying flyers around campus last week, says Dennis O’Shea, a university spokesman. Facilities has been doing extra cleaning in affected areas, such as resident halls.

Also, at least 50 students at Dartmouth College have come down with hand--foot-and-mouth disease in recent weeks, according to the New Hampshire Union-Leader, says Mark Reed, Dartmouth’s director of health services. Reed is encouraging everyone to wash hands with soap and warm water, and cleaning staff are targeting student common areas and public spots for disinfecting as a way to prevent the further spread of the virus.

And in Waterford, Mich., one elementary school in the Waterford School District is experiencing 9 cases of the disease, according to WXYZ. The director of the school district says eight students and one teacher were affected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on causes, prevention and treatment of the illness.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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