Fearing spread of measles and other diseases, SHS sends warnings to students

A girl with brown hair sits at an outdoor table doing work. She is wearing a tie-dye sweatshirt and an anti-viral face mask.
Three Claremont McKenna College students have been diagnosed with hand-foot-and-mouth disease in the past three weeks, CMC Dean of Students Diana Graves wrote in an email to students last week. (Camila Meija • The Student Life)

After several cases of the viral hand-foot-and-mouth disease on campus and a measles outbreak at nearby colleges, the 5Cs are warning students about virus-prevention measures to avoid the spread of these diseases.

Three Claremont McKenna College students have been diagnosed with HFMD in the past three weeks, CMC Dean of Students Diana Graves wrote in an email to students last week.

HFMD is a contagious virus common in infants and children, but it “can also be contracted and spread among adults living in close environments such as residence halls,” Graves said.

Symptoms include a rash or sores in the mouth, palms of hands and soles of the feet, as well as flu-like symptoms. The disease is communicable through mucus, saliva and fluids from open rashes or sores.

While there’s no specific treatment for HFMD, symptoms are treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and mouthwashes/spray. Nearly all patients recover in seven to 10 days.

To avoid contracting HFMD, students shouldn’t attend classes or visit dining halls if they have open rashes or sores, a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, are coughing or sneezing or otherwise feeling ill, Student Health Services said in a press release.

Students should also wash their hands frequently, disinfect surfaces and electronic devices and avoid close contact with students who are ill, Eric Clark, staff physician and interim clinical lead at SHS, said via email.

“If [students] have a roommate, teammate, or friend who has a sore throat, cough, runny nose, or fever, then assume that they have a viral illness and limit close contact with them,” Clark said. “Compared to a lot of viral illnesses, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is [more] benign and people fully recover in a short period.”

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SHS also emailed students about about measles, which has recently spread on the campuses of UCLA and California State University, Fullerton, leading to the quarantine of nearly 800 students, according to KTLA.

While the 5Cs haven’t experienced any cases of measles yet, Clark is a “bit more worried” about the disease because it is a “much more serious illness.”

The U.S. is currently experiencing its biggest measles outbreak since 2000, when it was considered eradicated from the country, Clark said.

Initial symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, Clark said. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth.

If students have these symptoms, Clark asked students to call SHS or another medical provider as soon as possible before visiting, to “avoid infecting others.

“I encourage students who are not vaccinated against measles to get the vaccination as soon as possible. This protects them and others as well,” he wrote. “We do offer immunizations at the [SHS] for $85.”

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