Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools warn of hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak

Stow-Munroe Falls High School on May 8, 2015 (Photo: Jim Pijor/Fox 8 News)

STOW, Ohio – The Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools has alerted parents after about 20 students were diagnosed with hand-foot-and-mouth disease in recent weeks.

The district sent a letter to parents Tuesday outlining symptoms of the virus that is spread through contact with unwashed hands, saliva, mucus and fluid from blisters.

District Director of Special Services Kristen Prough said in a statement that the first cases involved two high school football players who were diagnosed about two weeks ago, with additional cases diagnosed last week.

She said students were sent home immediately and the school and players’ equipment were sanitized.

Prough said additional cases have now been confirmed among students at other schools in the district, which has a student population of 5,300 students.

“At first we thought it was isolated to the high school as the students were all in the same activity together, but now we know differently,” Prough said in the statement. “Since our elementary students are not related to the high school students, we know this is not localized to one group of students.”

Summit County Public Health said the virus is fairly common among children, especially around this time of year.

Symptoms of HFM appear three to five days after exposure and include fever, rash or blisters, sore throat, headache and body aches. Symptoms can last for up to two weeks.

Health officials said the virus is very contagious and recommended good hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes and disinfecting surfaces. It recommended anyone with a fever be kept home until symptoms resolve.