Over Memorial Day weekend, Jenille Taylor of Marion arrived at her parents’ in Cedar Point to help shear their alpacas.
Taylor said her mother reported 7-year-old daughter Shannon, who had spent the night there, had complained of a bad headache across the crown of her head. Giving her Tylenol had helped.
Taylor’s mother said she had also noticed some spots on Shannon’s hands.
“With Shannon being down there—my mom has chickens, goats, alpacas—I just figured that she got into something that had a reaction on her hands because it was just on her hands,” Taylor said, adding that Shannon acted fine while they worked with the alpacas.
But later that day while attending a family gathering, Taylor said, Shannon was tired and asked to take a nap rather than go swimming. After she woke up, Shannon ate a little, but lay down on the couch and went back to sleep.
“And my daughter does not sleep like that,” Taylor said.
When she took Shannon’s temperature, it registered at 103.5 degrees.
Because Shannon has a congenital heart condition, Taylor decided to take her daughter to the emergency room at Newton Medical Center.
“When I got to the ER, her temp was still high,” Taylor said. “I could tell she was dehydrated. We sat in the ER and we got in, and they went ahead and hooked her up to a bag of fluids without a doctor seeing her.”
Shannon’s pediatrician was on duty that night and examined her..
“He said, ‘It’s classic hand, foot and mouth disease,’” Taylor said.
Shannon is one of a number of children in Marion County who have recently experienced hand, foot and mouth disease.
A viral disease, HFMD commonly affects infants and young children, although adults can contract the disease. It’s not to be confused the with animal foot-and-mouth disease, which can’t be transmitted to humans, according to the CDC.
Shannon’s symptoms were typical—fever, sores in her mouth and a skin rash. Her mother said the headache as well as an achy neck lasted three or four days.
The doctor prescribed Loritab for Shannon’s pain and sent home instructions to encourage her fluid intake but avoid citrus and carbonated beverages. He suggested giving half Gatorade and half water.
“She drank a lot of Gatorade,” Taylor said.
Quenton, Shannon’s 6-year-old brother, had a milder case of HFMD with spots in his mouth and on his hands and feet, Taylor said.
“When Quenton came down with it, I bought more Gatorade,” she said.
With both children diagnosed having HFMD, Taylor closed her day care for the following week.
“We shut down and cleaned everything and all that good stuff,” she said. “Two of my day care kids got (HFMD) that week I was shut down.”
Although Taylor is aware of HFMD because of her early childhood training, she said this summer was the first time she had encountered it.
As director of Marion’s Head Start program, Lesli Beery also was aware of HFMD.
A couple of weeks ago, her 2-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, had a persistent runny nose over several days.
“She just cried about everything, which is not her,” Beery said. “But I kept checking her for a fever. And nothing, nothing, nothing.”
By evening, Brooklyn’s temperature registered 102.6, and in following days other symptoms appeared.
“When she woke up from nap time, she had a couple little bumps (on the outside of her mouth),” Beery said.
The bumps showed until after the fever had been gone for 12 hours, she said.
Beery also noticed that Brooklyn had blisters on her fingers.
“She held out her hands and she had raised blisters full of pus on the tops of every finger, like around her nail bed,” said Beery, who directs Marion’s Head Start program. “That’s when I?knew what she had.”
During the course of the disease, Brooklyn also developed blisters on her feet.
“She had blisters that were raised probably 2 centimeters full of pus—on the tops of her toes and all over the bottoms of her feet,” Berry said.
“I put some of the aloe on her feet and put socks on it. And honestly, once the fever broke, she never acted like there was anything wrong. She never got them inside her mouth.”
Jim and Laura Paulus of Hillsboro reported that their four children, ages 3 to 9, also contracted HFMD this summer and experienced fever, blisters and achiness.
Each child seemed to experience one bad day during the course of the illness, Laura Paulus said.
“It helped me to know that there was one bad night to get through and then it would ease up,” Paulus said.
Lori Soo Hoo, coordinator of Marion County Parents as Teachers advises following good health habits to minimize chances of getting HFMD and other communicable diseases.
“Within our Marion County Parents as Teachers program, we provide basic education on general health practices such as: healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, dental hygiene, the importance of medical visits, safety-proofing a home for children,” Soo Hoo said.
“Within these conversations, we also talk about the importance of teaching frequent proper hand-washing to prevent the spread of germs.
“As a program, we also do our part to limit the spread of common early childhood illnesses among families by practicing the proper sanitization of toys, books and cloth materials that have been shared with the children and parents during our personal visits.
Soo Hoo suggests keeping children home if they have HFMD symptoms.
“We also follow the same guidelines as the public school districts regarding illness and attendance,” she said. “We ask that children be free from illness symptoms for at least 24 hours before the scheduled PAT visit to avoid the passing on of an illness.”
Soo Hoo recognizes that parents often find it difficult to see their children sick.
“Sometimes, even when parents provide their children with the best precautions and preventions, their children can still get sick,” she said. “Unfortunately, illness is also a normal part of childhood and being human.
“During times of illness, parents can have the opportunity to offer empathy, compassion and extra nurturing as they help their children journey down the road to recovery.”