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Something is Infecting the Children

Move aside, Covid! Make room for foot in mouth!

Yes, face-to-face classes have been back in full force since August, earlier than planned. (There was supposed to be a gradual shift back to the “old normal”, but everyone seems to be all giddy and excited to go out. So, we all plunged into it with a big splash.) Now, with all the hustle and bustle, I’m not really sure if I really like this. In a way, I kind of miss the relatively more peaceful streets. But we’re here now, and most if not all people would cast evil looks on me if I express that I miss the height of the lockdown days. So, we’ll move forward as we did in the middle of the pandemic.

I was eager to get vaccinated. I even got boosted. But something about the thought of giving the shots to kids makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know. Logically, I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theories of the vaccine being the mark of the 666, or it being the installation of a microchip, or that we’re all going to die after two years. Maybe, It’s the knowledge that this inoculation was all experimental and we would hate to see children getting undue suffering of sickness. We also have to remember that some years ago, the nation was shaken with the Dengvaxia disaster. Anti-Covid pediatric immunization was and still is low. But my admiration goes out to the kids who took both doses and the parents who permitted and brought them to the Resbakuna centers. That is something truly remarkable. I honestly think that compared to how it was in other countries, Philippine schools overreacted with the return to in-person classes. My nephew and niece in Virginia just went back to school with face masks and that was that. There was not much fuss about entry and exit points, seating arrangements and frequency of handwashing and all the things that balance between precaution and paranoia. Fortunately, as it seems for the most part, there has not been a significant breakout of the corona virus in elementary schools.

But lately, pupils have been getting absent from their classes. No, it’s not because of Covid infection. Before I put my foot in my mouth, reports have it that many children are getting sick with foot in mouth disease. says that “Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children. Symptoms include sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus. There’s no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who have hand-foot-and-mouth disease may help lower your child’s risk of infection.” Colloquially, they call it, “foot and mouth”, but when I look it up, “hand-foot-and-mouth disease keeps popping up. The description matches with the local cases; so, they must be the same. (People must be dropping the “hand” part in informal conversations.)

For some consolation, it is mild and does not deteriorate to the severe level. Again, we got a virus spreading among us, crisscrossing human interaction everyday. Being viral, it is contagious, causing more concern on social proximity on which we are becoming lax, maybe partly because we have grown tired of the impracticability of theidea that is social distance. What is heartbreaking is common among young children; yes, the same children whom we kept from vaccination because parents are too scared of the possible effects. If Covid or its vaccination did not catch up with them, something else could.

I would like to take an optimistic stance that it has visible symptoms like sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, unlike Covid-19 which could come in asymptomatic contagion in which you could be innocently infected from your healthy looking friend. Yes, it’s going to look bad, but at least you could see it’s coming before the whole house is coughing hard and coming down with high fever. However, no matter how hard I try, I could not take a positive stance with the fact that there’s no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. So, what do doctors do with kids with sores on the mouth and rashes on hands and feet? If frequent handwashing and avoiding people who have it are the only known ways of lowering the risk of infection, those handwashing facilities, alcohol, sanitizers, hand soap, and social distance policies, and isolation procedures could still be useful after all. So, if you’re thinking of letting loose, think again.

“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” -Psalm 91:3

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