A viral infection more common to babies and toddlers has hit Florida State University student living quarters, prompting university officials to cancel several events Tuesday night including fraternity rush activities.
An outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease has struck a small group of students, officials said.
“We are aware of more than a dozen cases so far,” said Lesley Sacher, director of the FSU Health and Wellness Center in a university release.
There is no treatment for the virus, which can cause mouth sores, skin rash and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It takes about five days for the infection to run its course, university officials said.
FSU crews are wiping down affected dormitories with bleach and enacting “sanitation protocols for all public spaces on campus,” officials said. All living areas — dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, and others — have been advised to disinfect and provide bottles of hand sanitizers if they don’t already have them.
“Students should take the necessary precautions to sanitize their living and communal spaces including bathrooms,” said Tom Jacobson, director of Environmental Health & Safety.
Some fraternity members contracted the disease, so the university cancelled several events, including rush, on Tuesday night as a precaution to limit exposure for students while various buildings were being cleaned,” FSU spokeswoman Browning Brooks said.
Rush is back on for tonight, she added.
The university notified the county health department immediately, Sacher said. FSU also will reach out to local restaurants and bars to sanitize their establishments.
“The most important piece of advice is to wash your hands often with soap and water,” Sacher said.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a “common viral illness” usually contracted by infants and children under five but can sometimes occur in adults, the CDC said. Symptoms include fever, mouth sores and skin rash. Adults can show no symptoms at all and still pass the virus onto others.
It’s a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted from person to person via direct contact with unwashed hands, by coughing and sneezing, or contact with blister fluid or surfaces contaminated with feces, the CDC said.
However, the CDC said, large outbreaks of the disease are uncommon in the U.S. The most common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease in the U.S. is the Coxsackie A16 virus.
It is often confused with hoof-and-mouth disease, which is a different virus that only affects livestock.