The Daily Gamecock

Contagious, common virus causes concern on campus

A series of recent cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease at the Honors Residence Hall have raised concerns among the residents. The contagious viral illness has infected several students on the second floor at the residence hall, casting a shadow of gloom over the residents.

“We don’t talk anymore. Everyone locks their doors instead of hanging out in the common room,” Jordan Hammond, a first-year public health student and a resident of the affected floor, said. “I usually wear a mask around my hall” she added, illustrating the common concern among students about the contagious nature of the disease. Hammond, along with many other students, also expressed frustrations with the behavior of the infected students.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection common in children and infants. It causes fever, sores on the mouth and a skin rash on the hands and feet. Last month, Florida State University suffered an outbreak of the disease, with over a dozen reported cases. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is both airborne and spread through physical contact, which allows the disease to spread readily in confined areas such as college residence halls. 

Alec Giakas, first-year biology student and another resident of the affected floor, was infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease as a child. He urged residents to be mindful of those around them.

“Just be considerate of others. When you’re sick, just try to stay to yourself until you get better,” he said.

Giakas, who serves as the vice president of the Honors Residence Hall, has been in close contact with Jimmy McClellan, the hall’s resident life coordinator, to work to contain the spread of the disease. The university has been following up with affected students on a one-to-one basis.

Dr. Deborah Beck, executive director of Student Health Services, there have been five cases of hand, foot and mouth disease diagnosed at the Thomson Student Health Center, and that the people affected live both on and off campus.

“This is not unusual in that each year Student Health Services will see about the same number of students with this illness,” she said.

Beck encouraged all students to get the flu vaccine and to follow the CDC’s guidelines for preventing illness.