Local mom concerned after son gets contagious disease at school

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

MILLEN, Ga. (WRDW) -- One mom has a lot of questions after her son came home from school with a highly contagious disease.

Jenkins County has had six confirmed cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the schools and even more in daycare programs.

Now that mom is asking why she wasn't notified it was going around after her 5-year-old son has been home sick from school all week.

His mom, Mary, says she noticed Friday something wasn't right.

"It looked like heat rash almost around his mouth. I really didn't pay it any attention," she said.

Assuming that's all it was, she sent him to school anyway.

"I had no idea not to send my child to school," she said. "Who would've known. I was never told what to look for, I was never told it starts out as a rash."

Turns out, it was a lot more than just a rash.

"He couldn't walk; it's on his hands, it's in his mouth," she explained.

It's actually a contagious disease called hand, foot, and mouth disease, not to be confused with hoof and mouth disease in animals.

"It freaked me out because I'd never heard of it," she said.

According to the CDC, hand, foot, and mouth is a viral illness that can cause fevers, mouth sores and skin rashes and is passed easily between children.

"I have four children in four different classes. Just say you have 30 children in each class -- you're looking at 120 students exposed because of my one child," said Mary.

Which is why she's concerned that parents were never notified saying, "Their hands, you see a couple bumps; unless you know what you're looking at, you're not gonna have a clue."

So News 12 asked the school and health department at what point they notify parents.

"Based on the severity, based on the number of cases that would deem whether or not we would notify the parents," said Emmitt Walker with the East Central Health District.

They say in this case, they didn't feel it was necessary. Some serious illnesses automatically are reported by just one case, but with illnesses like this, it takes cluster of students before parents are alerted.

"In this case, six cases would not constitute sending a letter out," he said.

Mary says she understands not wanting to create a panic, but with something like this, parents need to know.

"To err on the side of caution, why not go ahead and send something home that says, hey this is going on. If you see these symptoms in your child, don't send them to school," she said.

Four kids in the elementary school got the disease and two more in the middle and high school. A daycare had multiple cases and sent a letter home.

Click here for information on hand, foot, and mouth disease.

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