Infectious diseases are a continuing threat to all people, regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, ethnic background, or socioeconomic status. They cause illness, suffering and even death, and place an enormous financial burden on society. Although modern advances have controlled some infectious diseases, new ones are constantly emerging. State public health officials rely on local public health agencies, health care providers, laboratories and other public health personnel to report the occurrence of notifiable diseases. Without such data, trends cannot be accurately monitored, unusual occurrences of diseases (such as outbreaks) might not be detected or appropriately responded to, and the effectiveness of control and prevention activities cannot be evaluated.
Case investigation is completed by local public health nurses. Case investigation involves determining possible sources of the person’s infection, assessing the likelihood that the individual will transmit the infection to others, and providing education regarding prevention of further spread from the ill person to their contacts. This is done through the thorough and timely collection of data specific to each communicable disease.
The Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology at Iowa Department of Public Health reviews and interprets all surveillance data. The interpretation focuses on elements that would lead to the control and prevention of the condition and its spread. Your local public health office and the state work closely together to keep Iowans and Buena Vista County residents healthy.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Recent media reports have indicated an increase in the number of children contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease. The disease is a contagious viral illness that commonly affects infants and children. Symptoms include fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet with blisters.
There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, but simple steps can be taken to reduce the risk of becoming infected. Good hand washing – especially after handling saliva, soiled tissues, using the bathroom or changing diapers – is the best way to prevent infection with the coxsackie virus. Healthcare workers should wear disposable gloves when handling sheets or clothes soiled with the feces or saliva of persons who are ill.
In child care facilities:
Make sure that all children and adults use good hand washing technique, especially after toileting, assisting with toileting, diaper changes and wiping nose, sneezing or coughing.
Thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces and items and sanitize with diluted bleach water.
Keeping children and adults from activities outside the home usually will not reduce spreading of the disease because people may spread the virus without becoming very ill, and others who become ill may continue to have the virus in their bowel movements for weeks after recovering.
Hand foot and mouth disease is not a reportable disease. Because of this, the Iowa Department of Public Health does not have any surveillance data on this disease. For more information on hand, foot, and mouth disease visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/handfootmouthdisease/.