May 30, 2024

HFMD Outbreak Hits Campus

By Chloe McCracken ’20

Hand, foot, mouth disease (HFMD) is a current topic of gossip among Gordon College students.

Since September 27, 41 students have been diagnosed by Gordon’s health center. According to Susan Forsythe, Director of Student Health Services, “quite likely, more students have it; we had several phone inquiries about is as well.”

But why has this illness spread rumors like wildfire throughout campus? The fact that it has become so rampant on campus is rather unexpected.  HFMD is typically seen among children in places like daycares and preschools.

“The typical sequence is fever, followed by a very, very sore (hurts to swallow type) throat, then the appearance of the skin lesions in and around the mouth, hands and feet.  The fever and sore throat are symptoms of so many other viruses that by the time the skin lesions appear, the virus is already ‘out there,’” Susan Forsythe said when asked about Gordon’s role in preventing further spread of the disease.

HFMD is a viral illness, so symptomatic care is the only treatment. The Health Center advises that students take an over-the-counter pain medication for their sore throat and malaise. The most important treatment for infected students is rest and fluid intake.

The Tartan interviewed an anonymous student who was diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease a few weeks ago. When the student was asked about how the illness had affected their studies, they replied, “I got nervous about being close to people and touching things that other people would touch, so that made me not want to go to class. I still did go to class but was just aware of the people around me.”

HFMD is spread by contact with nasal secretions or throat discharge, saliva, fluid from blisters, stool, and respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze.

When asked about the most effective way to prevent HFMD from further spreading on campus, Forsythe said, “Careful, common sense, HYGIENE…. covering coughs and sneezes, no sharing of drinks or any other exchange of saliva, and most importantly, HAND WASHING and/or use of hand sanitizer. Also, attention to your living space…wiping door knobs, faucet handles, and any other surfaces that are touched by lots of people’s hands.”

Gordon as an organization is dividing responsibility for disease control among departments. The Health Center sent an email on October 5 regarding the influx of illness.

You can be a part of preventing HFMD from spreading more by following the earlier mentioned tips and being aware of those around you.


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