HARRISONBURG — At least 20 James Madison University students have contracted hand, foot and mouth disease, school officials confirmed Thursday.
The first case was reported Sept. 4.
While school leaders say the number of patients is extremely low compared to total enrollment, some basic precautionary measures should be taken.
“We would not consider the number of cases we’ve seen as a significant outbreak,” said Bill Wyatt, the university’s spokesman. “However, because it is present in the community, students, faculty and staff should take extra precautions to prevent the spread by washing their hands often.”
Last week, JMU sent a notice to students alerting them to the disease.
It is an infection that causes sores to develop in the mouth and on hands and feet.
It’s a contagious disease caused by viruses passed through body fluids, including mucus, saliva, fluid from the sores and traces of bowel movements.
Symptoms include a low-grade fever, fatigue and painful sores. The symptoms typically last from three to 10 days.
The symptoms are usually treated with over-the-counter medications, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
While the disease typically strikes younger children, college campuses sometimes see outbreaks, according to JMU.
The university hasn’t dealt with the disease in recent years, but the campus was plagued by a mumps outbreak last academic year.
Mumps is a viral illness that can cause fever, fatigue and swelling of the salivary glands.
At least 51 people contracted the virus.
In early February, JMU postponed two men’s basketball games because of the mumps, as two coaches and a player tested positive for the disease.