BVI News

New policy: Hand-foot-and-mouth disease must now be reported to health authorities

National Epidemiologist Harmony Brewley during a presentation on the Hand-foot-and-mouth disease recently.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is now classified as a notifiable disease in the British Virgin Islands.

A notifiable disease is any health-related condition that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.

According to National Epidemiologist Harmony Brewley, prior to 2019, daycares and healthcare providers were not required to send the Ministry of Health notifications regarding persons who contracted the Hand-foot-and-mouth disease prior to 2019.

“There wasn’t any real baseline data on the epidemiology of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease … But that has been changed now. We’re making it a notifiable condition and many other countries have followed suit because children are dying from Hand-foot-and-mouth disease,” Brewley said at a recent community meeting to highlight the disease outbreak locally.

The national epidemiologist said that the disease is a common illness in the BVI. But because of the recently-discovered new strains which have resulted in a few fatal cases in other countries, she said it is vital to keep the numbers low in the territory.

“It is something that we need to be on the alert for because you don’t want Hand-foot-and-mouth disease to rise above our baseline levels. Reason being, we have children here who may be immunocompromised, meaning that they may not be producing the amount of immunity that they need to actually fight off the illness and they can develop serious complications, especially if it is one of the more harmful strains,” she said

Last week, BVI News reported that the disease was spreading at a rapid pace within the territory with nearly 60 cases reported since September 2019.

As a result, the Ministry of Health along with the Environmental Health Division and the BVI Health Services Authority decided to host a few community meetings in areas where daycare facilities exist to help sensitize the public on the contagious disease.

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