The first weeks of college can be tough, but there’s been an outbreak of college kids getting hand, foot, and mouth disease and it’s strange, because it’s something that usually affects children. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a virus that’s usually passed by coughing, sneezing, or contact with blister fluid or stool from another person, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Since babies are basically just living fluid factories, it makes sense that the virus spreads in day cares and playpens. But a recent outbreak at Florida State University dorms is proof that adults can get it sometimes too.
Sometimes adults can exhibit no symptoms, but still transmit to other people since it’s so highly contagious. If you remember anything about college dorms, it’s no wonder the virus has spread so quickly.
Lesley Sacher, director of the FSU Health and Wellness Center said that there have been more than a dozen cases so far. Sacher said in a statement that the university notified the health department immediately and that crews were dousing the affected dorms with bleach and putting “sanitation protocols for all public spaces on campus” in place. They’re asking that students use lots of hand sanitizer and just keep on top of staying germ free.
A group of students in a fraternity had gotten the virus, so the university cancelled some events this week while the cleaning takes place. They even cancelled some rush activities this week as a precaution. But since this is Florida, Rush Week is back on.
With lots of Purell and bleach, of course.
The symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease are a fever, lack of appetite, sore throat, and fatigue. But that’s just the beginning. Later, painful mouth sores show up, blister, and can become ulcers. That’s when the rash hits, usually on the palms of a hand or on the feet, knees, elbows, and genital area. Some adults, and sometimes babies, too, never show these symptoms, but they can pass it to others much like you can pass the common cold.
According to the CDC, the symptoms pass within 5 days or so, but there is no treatment. It’s really about bed rest, staying away from other people so you don’t pass it, staying hydrated and finally binge watching Stranger Things (or, in FSU’s case, doing homework) while you wait for it to pass. It sounds miserable, because it is. It’s hard to treat babies when they’re sick because they can’t tell you what hurts. But college students might be even harder to deal with.
One person tweeted in solidarity, “Hand Foot Mouth was the worst and sickest I’ve ever felt in my life. I missed my Big’s graduation because of how horrible I felt. No joke.” Just cross your fingers it doesn’t spread past the university’s limits. Get better soon, FSU.