DERBY -- Friday's football game between Derby High School and Seymour High School is cancelled after at least five players and students in Derby became sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Principal Martin Pascale sent a letter to parents cautioning them about the disease.
Pascale said several cases of the coxsackie virus, known more commonly as hand, foot, and mouth disease, were reported on Monday.
"As a safety precaution, Derby High School will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected by the facilities management team," Pascale stated in the letter. "In addition, parents are encouraged to check your child/children for signs of a blister rash on the palms of their hands, soles of their feet and inside their mouths. Symptoms may also include a fever."
Included in the letter was a fact sheet from the Connecticut Department of Public Health which further explained the coxsackie virus.
Coxsackie viruses are spread through close personal contact, according to the Center for Disease Control. Anyone can be infected, and somebody may spread the virus to to others just prior to the onset of symptoms. The incubation period is usually 3-5 days.
Those infected will complain of a sore throat or sore mouth and loss of appetite. Fever of 101-102 lasting one or two days occurs and is usually accompanied by sores in the mouth. Sores can also occur on the hands and feet. The illness is mild and lasts one week or less.
Doctors say it's mostly kids 10 and under affected, but these teen cases aren't uncommon because of the close contact involved in a sport like football.
Superintendent Mark Conway assures parents they are taking this very seriously. He said, "We took immediate action disinfecting the entire school, as well as field house, equipment, water bottles, you name it. Anything they touched. We disinfected the field house twice so far and we have a crew doing it a third time."
At this time, there is no specific treatment, but particular attention should be paid to hand washing and personal hygiene.
The five students won't be allowed back in school until they are cleared by their physician. There's still no word on an exact date for when the Seymour versus Derby football game will be rescheduled.