Cases of Hand-Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak hit campus and continue to spread

by Inji Kim 

Ever since its first appearance in late September, a total of 10 cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) have been confirmed on campus, making Drew students worried about their health.

According to the World Health Organization link provided by the Drew Health Services, HFMD is a common infectious disease of infants and children characterized by fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on hands, feet and also buttocks. The disease is caused by a strain of Coxsackie virus that is moderately contagious and can be spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharge, blisters and feces of infected people, or touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them. Students were mainly warned and informed about the virus by two emails; the first email was sent by  Health Services  on September 30th , followed by an email sent out by  Campus Life and Student Affairs on October 1st. In addition, caution signs were hung around dorm buildings to remind students to take precautions against the virus.

Many students found these emails and signs useful. “The emails were pretty helpful. I know how it is transmitted,” said Barbara Fonseca (’19). Drewid Alex Pearce (‘19) also added, “I understand based on the emails we have received that Coxsackie should be taken seriously since it is extremely contagious. I have taken a number of recommended precautions to ensure that I do not get the virus myself.” One precaution was to frequently wash one’s hands, especially after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing one’s nose. The Health Services Office also strongly encouraged everyone to sanitize their hands before entering eating establishments or other public locations.

However, confirmed cases of the disease continue to appear  despite efforts made by the office to prevent the spread of the virus.  According to the campus emergency information notifications, more cases were confirmed on both October 6 and 7, one on each day. “I was not aware of the fact that there were emergency notifications online; I was never told,” said Jina Yoon (’18).  She also added that she did not know of the total number of students who have been confirmed to have the virus. “Since we did not get any follow-up emails after October 1, I thought things were in control until I found out that one of my classmates in my Chinese class is currently under quarantine,” Yoon added.

Along with Yoon, many students interviewed by the Acorn still seemed to have many questions about how long the virus would stay on campus or why certain events were and were not cancelled. While most sports events for the first weekend of October were cancelled, the events of Family Weekend were not affected. The Acorn reached out to the director of Health Services , Joyce Maglione, with students’ inquiries  but was given a link to the information already provided by Health Services. No other specifics were given.

According to the link, Drew continued its increased disinfection of all common areas with special attention to bathrooms, dining areas, fitness equipment and doorknobs to help combat this virus. Along with that, it noted that they are  ensuring every hand sanitizer dispenser is full. Additionally, the pool was closed to be shocked and disinfected but  is now open. It is difficult for the virus to be tracked because  some may carry the virus without showing any symptoms. Along with being cautious and constantly washing hands, it is strongly encouraged for anyone who carries symptoms such as blisters, fever, or sore throats to call Drew Health Services at 973-408-3414 in order to prevent further spreading of the disease. Health Services hours are as follows:

Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. –12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Weekends 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

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