Letters have been sent out to childcare providers across the Commonwealth warning of a contagious virus spreading among infants and young children.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral illness that typically infects children up to age 5; however, anyone is susceptible to the disease.
According to the letter sent out by the Central Shenandoah Health District, emergency department and urgent care visits for the illness have been elevated in recent weeks.
Laura Kornegay, health director for the district, said, "There were a total across the state of 376 emergency department and urgent care visits that a chief complaint or a diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth disease. Or, they had symptoms consistent with that of the diagnosis."
Symptoms of this illness are "fever, fatigue, followed by a rash...typically in the mouth, palms or soles," said Kornegay. She said painful sores are also common.
While there is no treatment for this illness, there are ways to try to keep it from spreading. Kornegay says parents should encourage children to always wash their hands after using the restroom, and parents should keep children at home — away from others — if they get sick.