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Huge number of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease in the Far North calls for concern

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Dozens of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) cases in the Far North have prompted health officials to urge parents to look out for symptoms.

More than 60 cases have been presented to the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department since the beginning of the year - and at least 15 day-care centres across the region have been affected.

Cairns public health medical officer Dr Annie Preston-Thomas says although the disease is especially common in children, it can also affect adults.

“We are currently investigating why and how this virus is circulating in our region, but it is commonly linked to warm weather.

“We usually see a small number of cases during our hotter parts of the year, but this year has been especially severe," Dr Preston-Thomas says.

People can develop HFMD without having any symptoms, but Dr Preston-Thomas says it usually begins with a mild fever and a runny nose.

“This is followed by a sore throat and mouth, with the appearance of blisters in the mouth, and on hands and feet,” she says.

Anyone with symptoms is being asked visit their doctor, stay at home, and for children not to attend day-care or school.