SUMMITVILLE — A sudden outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease that swept through a Summitville Elementary School kindergarten class forced Madison-Grant United School Corp. officials to cancel classes on Friday.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Deetz said school staff realized they had a problem Thursday morning when a student was sent to the office with a fever. Shortly afterward, the parent of a child in the same class reported a confirmed case of the disease.

Other students in the class were sent home when they began showing symptoms, Deetz added.

Highly contagious and most common in children under age 5, the condition is caused by a virus and nearly all people recover without medical treatment in seven to 10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"It is common in infants and children younger than 5 years old, because they do not yet have immunity to the viruses that cause HFMD. Older children and adults can also get HFMD," the CDC said in a health advisory.

To contain the spread of the disease, officials decided to close all three of the district's schools and make Friday an e-Learning day, said Deetz.

"Another reason for the all-district e-Learning day is we understand that many families rely on older siblings and students to help with childcare in situations such as this," he added.

With students absent, the district's custodial staff could thoroughly disinfect each school building from top to bottom.

Monday will also be an e-Learning day, said Deetz, because parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for students in all grades.

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Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease

• Fever

• Reduced appetite

• Sore throat

• Feeling unwell

• Painful mouth sores that usually begin as flat red spots

• A rash of flat red spots that may blister on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and sometimes the knees, elbows, buttocks, and/or genital area

These symptoms usually appear in stages, not all at once. Not everyone will have all of these symptoms. Some people may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.

Steps to lessen your chances of getting sick

You can reduce the risk of getting infected with the viruses that cause HFMD by following a few simple steps:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, and help young children do the same.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD.

• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

• Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is not the same as Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Avoid confusion

HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which affects cattle, sheep, and swine. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.

Source: Centers for Disease Control