Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease Attacks Children In South Bombay Schools
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01 October 2010
By Yogita Rao
Rajni Malhotra (name changed), a student from lower kindergarten standard from a plush school in South Mumbai contracted a mysterious sickness called the hand–foot–mouth disease, last week. For more than a week, she was quarantined. After swine flu last year, students are being sent back from schools for contracting this highly contagious disease.
Rajni’s mother, said, "I don’t know from where my child contracted the disease from. However, the doctor suggested us to remain indoors as it is highly infectious. She was unable to eat properly due to throat infection, so the best thing for her was to stay away from school."
Rajni’s is not an isolated case: since the last couple of weeks, the number of such instances, that of young school students contracting a hand–foot–mouth disease has literally shot up, say doctors. This disease has resulted in a dramatic rise in absenteeism in schools in some localities.
Several schools sent a circular to parents at this time of the year, creating awareness about the disease. They were also told to observe self–quarantine in case their wards are suffering from it. However, though it is infectious, some doctors feel that quarantining is not a great solution. Indu Khosla, consulting paediatrician, Hinduja Hospital, said, "It is not the best solution.
It is only a mild disease. The virus is not all that dangerous. Students can therefore attend schools with certain precautions. However, several schools insist on keeping children indoors. They also send back students from schools to avoid the spread of the disease." Though children get lesions in the hands, buttocks, arms and legs, the throat ulcers cause major inconvenience for children, said Khosla. She also added that the disease is frequenting a lot these days.
However, a section of doctors from the city also feel that keeping children at home can help them in curing the disease faster.
Tanu Singhal, a consulting paediatrician, from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital,said, "In the last two weeks, I have diagnosed around 15–20 children with this disease. It is better to keep children at home. Since the ulcers in the mouth does cause a lot of pain in the throat, it is unbearable for children. Also since they get boils on arms and legs, it is highly contagious. It is better to avoid schools."