The John Bapst football team has had to cancel a JV game and completely sanitize its locker room facilities, equipment, uniforms and other athletic gear this week due to a small outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral infection in infants and children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is not related to hoof and mouth disease in animals.
Two varsity players came down with the disease last week, but are expected to be available — along with the rest of the varsity roster — for Saturday night’s homecoming game against Mount View of Thorndike.
“Yeah, it’s been tough because on top of that, we have kids reeling from cold and flu bugs as well,” said head coach Dan O’Connell. “The first one had the flu-like symptoms a week after our Rockland game [Sept. 25] and the second kid had it the week after that, but both broke out with the rashes last Friday.”
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is characterized by painful oral ulcers or pustules on the hands and feet, but it begins with a fever followed by the appearance of a distinctive rash that usually clears up within a week.
“There’s a five-day incubation period where they’re very contagious,” O’Connell said. “The good news is we haven’t had anyone show any symptoms and it’s day five today [Wednesday].”
O’Connell said Monday’s JV game was canceled as a precaution. In the meantime, he’s been busy cleaning up.
“We spent the day disinfecting the locker room and took clothing and equipment home to clean it,” he explained. “They washed the clothing with bleach and used disinfectant on the equipment. We also threw away all the water bottles and got new ones.
“Football locker rooms aren’t the cleanest places in the world, but by Tuesday, you could eat off the floor,” O’Connell said.
BDN staff writer Meg Haskell contributed to this report.