Steele HS hand, foot, and mouth fears spread online

By Jason Hawk -

The word spread quickly Thursday via social media: Amherst Steele High School had two — no three! — cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Those claims were wildly off-base and more virulent than the truth, according to the Lorain County General Health District.

A single suspected case of the illness was being monitored as of Friday, said health commissioner Dave Covell.

“This is not an outbreak,” he said wearily in a phone interview.

But Steele principal Michael May said, and publicly posted on the school’s website, that there were two confirmed cases as of mid-day Friday.

Those students stayed home from school as a result.

“You never want any child or teenager to be sick, so we figured we’d put the proper information out there,” said May.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is pretty common among little kids up to age five, who spread it usually by sharing toys that have been in their mouths. It manifests in fevers, mouth sores, skin rashes, and sore throats.

Covell said it sounds worse than it is, especially at the high school level.

The virus doesn’t survive long outside the body, meaning it’s not terribly contagious. There is a very low chance it can spread through locker rooms or wrestling mats, but that’s not typical, said Covell.

If a high-schooler contracts hand, foot, and mouth, it’s usually from a younger sibling.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk