Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreaks Forcing Schools Across the Country to Cancel Events

A disease that usually affects infants and toddlers has struck young adults in high schools and even colleges across the country in recent weeks.

Dozens of students from Burlington, Vermont, to Tallahassee, Florida, have been diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), prompting school officials to cancel football games and other events.

HFMD is a viral infection that causes sores in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes on the buttocks and legs. The sores can be painful and there is no treatment for the virus, which spreads easily through coughing and sneezing and usually lasts for about a week. The disease is most common in the summer and fall.

Hand_foot_mouth_disease Image Credit: Shutterstock

A potential outbreak of HFMD  struck a high school football team in La Porte, Indiana, in August with one confirmed case and a handful of other possible cases.

LaPorte Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said the football team’s locker room at Kiwanis Field a few blocks from the high school has been thoroughly cleaned as a precaution.

Parents of team members have also been advised to clean their children’s clothing and watch for any symptoms that might develop.

In recent days, an outbreak of the disease hit Burlington, Vermont, where a local high school had to cancel a football game that was scheduled for last Friday.

As of Thursday evening, more than half of the Falcons' football team was displaying symptoms, he said. North Country also cancelled the boys and girls soccer games which were to be played on Friday.

Beginning around 2 p.m. Thursday, several football players arrived at the nurse's office with symptoms of the disease — flu-like symptoms, throat pain, red spots on their hands. Six players were confirmed cases, while 20 or 21 "could go either way," Dinzeo said.

Next page: Find out which other schools are experiencing outbreaks of HFMD.