Hand Foot and Mouth disease is spreading in Mid Missouri

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ASHLAND - Hand, foot, and mouth disease spreads as easily as the common cold, and it can be hard to contain once it reaches high traffic areas like classrooms and locker rooms. 

Southern Boone County High School recently saw an outbreak of the disease in a handful of students. 

"We're treating this just like we would a cold or flu outbreak," said Superintendent Christopher Felmlee. 

Felmlee said while students had a scheduled day off on Friday, school custodians took extra precautions to sanitize areas that could harbor the infection, like the athletic facilities.  

While the disease most commonly affects small children, several outbreaks among young adults have made the news recently.

A handful of high schools experienced outbreaks in New Jersey, with most cases occuring in football players.  

College campuses can also be hot spots for spread of the disease. Florida State and Colorado State universities both reported outbreaks last month. 

Nabila Khaleel, M.D., a pediatrician with MU Health Care, said outbreaks in teenagers and adults likely stem from an initial exposure to an infected child.

"It's a common viral infection," Khaleel said. "Typically what you'll have are fevers and rash on the hands and feet." 

Sores in the mouth and body aches are also common. 

Khaleel said basic hygeine habits like handwashing and not sharing cups and utensils help prevent the spread of the disease, since it is highly contagious. 

She advised anyone experiencing symptoms along with a fever should stay home.