Hand Foot and Mouth Disease OUTBREAK at My Kids' School Not Being Controlled????

Updated on October 04, 2011
L.Q. asks from Perris, CA
19 answers

My 2 y/o daughter goes to an early start pre-school and last tuesday 9/20 a child in her class showed up with blisters in his mouth and was allowed to stay at school, I know WTH! but anywho he was sent home later b/c the blisters were not allowing him to eat, turns out he had hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as did his older sister who is in a different classroom at the same center. So from that Tuesday to the next monday (6 days) a total of 7 children contracted hfmd, there are 8 children in my daughters class 4 of them (now possibly 5) have either had or have it. To my surprise, the little boy and his sister show up at school on tuesday 9 /27 just 7 days after having the blisters, everything that i have ready online states that the children are still contagious. The Center of Disease Control clearly states " The viruses that cause HFMD can remain in the body for weeks after a patient's symptoms have gone away. This means that the infected person can still pass the infection to other people even though he/she appears well. Also, some persons who are infected and excreting the virus, including most adults, may have no symptoms." So why the heck are they being allowed back to school? because they have a doctors note! As soon as I saw the children back i went to the school office and asked what was going on and they told me that they have to do what the Health Deparement says, which is to only exclude the children who have blisters on their hands, so I called the health department and sked them where they get their info from and they say from the center of disease control (CDC) yet the CDC states that the children are still contagious.so the kids are being let back in school and they are still contagious and no one seems to see the big problem, these kids are not only gonna get the kids at our school sick but also at their siblings schools, I wront a very detailed email to the 2 big people i could find from the health department and im waiting for a call back or something, meanwhile i can't really take my daughter out of school b/c i have to work and i allready have 1 infant in daycare ($191 a week!) and yet i know that if one of my kids gets it probably all 4 of them will get it which means that i will probably be out of work for a month!! can you see my concern?? ughh im frustrated, i thought contacting the CDC was the best i could do being that they are so big, but no one is doing anything to control this outbreak, i think they are gonna wait for 1/2 the center to be infected to actually do something about it, all im trying to do is prevent the spreading but shouldnt this be the health departments job? sorry for the rant, im just really frustrated, i dont have any one else to watch my daughter so unfortunately she has to be at school. thanks for any advice you all may have!

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So What Happened?

Wow I never thought trying to protect my kids from this ugly disease would generate the mean responses I have recieved. I think most of the responses are mean and insensetive, maybe those of you who wrote them don't have 4 small children at home or maybe you just don't remember what it's like to have sick babies at home, let alone 4 of them or maybe you all CAN afford to miss a month from work, I can't and that is why I am trying to figure out if there is something else that can be done to keep this from spreading further, maybe if someone else had done what I'm doing in the first place then i wouldn't be writting this . I don't think I am going to find the advice I was looking for here, ya'll have a nice day.

p.s livinglifeandloving it- i think you are the only person who actually understands what is going on here and thanks for motivating me i really appreciate it.

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Where I am the regulations exclude children while they have weeping blisters. Their faeces contains the virus for weeks, but all care providers should have good enough standards anyway for this not to be a problem. Kids get viruses, it's part of the human condition.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

HFM is contagious WAY before the blisters appear and WAY after they disappear. How, in the world would you suggest they contain something they cannot see, hear or feel or touch?

Your best bet is to hatch a back up plan NOW--just in case! A friend or relative who might be able to pinch hit for you.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My son got it last year. He never got blisters on his hands or feet. He got lesions on his throat and a fever of 101-102. I rotated Motrin/Tylanol for pain and fever management. He was allowed to return to his daycare 24hrs after fever had subsided.

Our daycare is fully aware of the timing of contagiousness. That's why my son was allowed to return 24hrs after fever had subsided. Our pedi said ice cream and any other dairy [yogurt, milk, etc] were the things to give him to eat until the lesions on his throat were gone. But that once the fever was gone, he would no longer be contagious. No one else got it from him. He'd spiked the fever on a Friday @ his grandmas and was back @ his daycare on Wednesday. My 8yr old daughter did NOT get it either.

I was told he likely got it from one of the stores we'd gone to. No one else in his daycare had it.

Only 1 in 10 kids get visible blisters.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

So, keep your kids home, they were exposed to the virus before the kids showed up with the blisters. I guess the other people can't take their kids out for weeks on end b/c they have to work too. Life sucks for everyone and people can't always accommodate your schedule. If your kids get the disease, at least they will have immunity after wards, so you better hire a nanny for several weeks as a back up plan as you apparently expect these families to do. To prevent spreading, according to the CDC website which you quoted, you must practice hygiene and constant handwashing. It doesn't say that children should be quarantined or not allowed back at school, especially since the children were cleared with a Dr.'s note.

"Good hygiene practices that can lower the risk of infection include:

* Washing hands frequently and correctly (see Clean Hands Save Lives! ) and especially after changing diapers and after using the toilet

* Cleaning dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys, first with soap and water and then disinfecting them by cleansing with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by adding 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 cups of water)

* Avoiding close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing eating utensils or cups, etc.) with persons with HFMD

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

These answers are not mean or insensitive. They are honest and right-on. Just because they don't go along with your agenda does not make it bad advice. Good luck fighting all the cooties out there - you'll need it!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Honestly, they've all been exposed at this point, so I would just try to stop worrying. Most kids don't get terribly sick (my son had no rash and just a fever for 24 hours - missed one day of daycare) and what would you really do if your child got it and you had to stay home for 'weeks while they might be contagious' vs. a few days until they have no lesions on their hands?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

FYI the CDC does not have policy about not allowing children with hfm return to school
Well my oldest got rsv from daycare because someone thought their baby had the common cold (no fever at the time) it went through the entire daycare. Did I get myself all worked up? No I did not because that's what comes with having children in daycare and school. Heck your child could get hfm from the playground or while your out shopping.

Edited: I'm sorry if you fel that moms that don't share your opinion are mean and insensitive. My oldest gets pneumonia everyone he gets a cold, I have to stay up and give neb treatments every 2 hrs, prednisone, antibiotics, occasionally a few nights in the hospital. The fact is you are contagious before they show symptoms your kid was exposed anyways if she's gonna get it she's gonna get it. As long as the child doesn't haven't oozing blisters on her hands, sharing drinks, utensils, smearing her poop on your daughter it will be ok. If you dont like it hire a nanny then you won't have to worry about sick daycare kids.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Ok, I get that you are were frustrated that they sent a kid to school sick. But what are you suggesting? What is the "appropriate" amount of time they should keep their kids home? Am I reading this wrong, they kept the kids at home for seven days right? Do you expect them to quarantine their kids for weeks?

My daughter has Molluscum Contagiosm, a skin virus that can be spread to other kids. It takes months to YEARS before she would be considered non contagious. That's right years. So what am I supposed to do? Keep her away from everyone till then? That's simply not possible. What I DO do is make sure that her bumps are covered to minimize the possibility that she might spread it, keep her hands washed, for the same reasons. From what the dermatologist told me that is the way to keep it from spreading. My daughter has had this since February and so far no one has contracted it from her. Knock on wood, we finally seem to be beating it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

It's very easy to lay blame on the preschool here, but the truth is that the entire school has been exposed for quite a while already and their hands are tied. Everyone in the school, including the parents of the sick children, are in exactly the same situation you're in except that their children are actually sick. They're living with what you're in fear of. Remember that. And since their children have been experiencing it, perhaps they have a bit more knowledge of the illness and how it progresses. Have you tried talking to the other parents? In an information-gathering way, not in a judgmental I-can't-believe-you-brought-your-kids-to-school-way.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I feel your pain. A few years ago my 2 yr old contracted HFM from his daycare. I had no back-up care-giver for him, and only 6 sick days a year (4 already used). I had to take 2 weeks off unpaid from my work to care for him. It really sucked!

My sister operates 2 daycare centers here in IL and they have 2-3 outbreaks of HFM every year. They also follow their village's health dept codes, which is to exclude the child only while the blisters are visible. Unfortunately, by the time that the first blister appears, the infection has already begun infecting the other kids. Usually when one gets HFM, everyone does.

I wish you luck, but I also think it is a good idea to find a back-up caregiver who can care for your kids. I know it really is terrible to have to take so much time off to care for sick kids, and I was NEVER treated the same at work afterwards. The other people in my dept (none of whom had kids) were very condescending any time I had to leave to pick up my sick kid, and made fun of me and suggested that I invented the illness to get out of work.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This was something my son got in daycare.
I kept him home a day or two but he was feeling fine and had no fever so he was good to go back.
I'd never had it as a child, so I got it when he did.
I could not take the time off of work for it, but it was really great for making sure no one was going to touch my keyboard at the office for a few weeks!
I remember telling my Mom he got Hand Foot and Mouth disease and she said "He's got anthrax?!?" and I had to explain this was a common childhood virus and usually no big deal.
A few people really do react very badly to it.
Wash hands frequently and I'd send in a supply of Clorox wipes so the teacher can wipe surfaces (door knobs, keyboards, computer mice, desk tops, etc) down more often.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Unfortunately, this is just how it goes in pre-schools and daycares. By the time the first kid shows symptoms, he/she has already passed it to whole the school. Unless you want your kid to live in a bubble, just prepare yourself for such viral outbreaks occasionally. HFMD is very common, esp in preschools and daycares. I had it so bad when I was a kid that I even remember it as an adult! And actually, over the last two weeks, two people in my office have had it- and they got it from their kids who don't even go to the same daycare. They were having an outbreak there as well. Just relax and chalk it up to building a strong immune system. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I feel your pain! I am most shocked by the repeated recommendations of pediatricians, to allow children back to school 24 hours after a fever subsides -- no matter what the condition! Most viruses continue to be contagious for 5 days -- so the "fever has been resolved for 24 hours" rule just seems like hooey.

Hand foot and mouth is super contagious (yes even before the symptoms start) It also can be an excruciating illness -- where a child is unable to eat or even swallow water -- so your concerns are certainly valid.

While the virus can stay in the feces for months -- the most contagious time is usually considered the first week. And certainly no child should be allowed back in school with any visible blisters.

While it is upsetting -- I think it would be unrealistic to expect the other moms to keep their children out beyond that week (unless they were visibly symptomatic) . But your option is to keep your own children out an additional week (arrange for some alternate care for them) -- make sure no new cases have emerged (I think it's a 3 -5 day incubation period) -- and then return when the last child has been clear for at least a week or more (that being the most contagious period ). Most rounds of this I've seen at preschools -- hit hard the first week and then subside .

I would also ask the school about their strategy for keeping the school safe from the virus as far as cleaning surfaces , etc. That's all you can do -- the CDC has kooky inconsistent rulings with regards to childcare and illness (that I think defers to the needs of the workforce first and foremost) They explicitly say that an illness (like Hand Foot and Mouth) is most contagious for the first week -- and then recommend returning to school 24 hours after fever subsides (which is usually the first day!) == even while saying it continues to be contagious until all sores have healed (which can take a week or more). Makes no sense -- all you can do is monitor the situation and make your own decisions and arrangements about returning your child to school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I feel your pain. Daycare illnesses are frustrating. However, kids getting sick at daycare/school is par for the course. Most of the time the kid has already been contagious before they show visible signs of being sick. By then it's too late, anyway.

Realistically a person cannot take 3 weeks off of work & keep their job, because the virus is POSSIBLY still in their child's body, and after the doctor has cleared the kid to back to daycare. It's just not feasible. Just like you are worried about having to take time off of work for a month, so are all the other parents.

I get your concern, I really do, but working parents have to work, obviously, and sometimes that means taking your kids back to daycare before the suggested or proposed/possible duration of the illness/virus. Think of how long a cold lingers. You are not contagious for the majority of that time, though.

It's a virus, not even curable by any medication. The "disease" dramatics are a little much, IMO. Your kids aren't even sick, so I'm not sure why you're so upset, honestly. You're getting upset over something that may or may not happen.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I hear your frustration and I get it completely. I think its more or less at the school's discretion. They should be thinking of the best interest of the children but it seems like money from the students attendance is winning. I would write a letter to the pres of headstart, local community health dept and insist that there be followup on this. They need someone from the health dept to inspect and make sure they are taking all of the needed measures to keep all of the healthy children healthy and to help those that are ill and keep them home! Hang in there and don't take no for an answer. Sounds like pure laziness to me. I worked at a pre-school and any type of illeness like this would remove a child for at least 2 weeks. We were sticklers for making sure everyone was healthy and if they weren't, they stayed home. HFMD is painful and I can't imagine as a parent letting my child go to school in that condition. My children have had it and they had to be on pain meds because of the painful blisters! So...you are doing the right thing-keep pushing forward and make a big stink. They need to take care of this. GL


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I agree with you it's frustrating. Even though this is highly contagious it can be managed. When I worked in a preschool my toddler room had 2 kids get sick from it and only reason they both got it was they were twins. But the kids were sent home at any sight of illness and that's the way it should be! Also if all all these kids are getting it it makes me wonder how clean the place really is? I'm sorry your babies are going through this, all I can suggest is keep them hydrated and give them love :)


answers from Columbia on

Call the school board and contact the press.

Make it public and I guarantee that someone will jump up and make sure it gets controlled.



answers from Denver on

Have you called your pediatrician to get the real scoop? I know it's very contagious, but it may not be after the blisters are gone. I would call my Dr. to get his/her opinion. Good luck that everyone stays well !



answers from Tampa on

Well, it sounds like they had a doctor's note to bring the child back to daycare, so I am not sure what you can do about that. I get your frustration...really I do. It is hard when we have a couple days in the same week with a sick child and have to juggle work committments between 2 parents. Sadly, it sounds like your children have likely been exposed already so maybe you just have to wait it out and hope for the best...

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