HEALTH chiefs have acted swiftly to allay fears that a contagious childhood illness is sweeping local schools.
Concerns were raised after several children were sent home sick from Lamberhead Green Primary School, Pemberton, with mysterious rashes and spots.
Hand, foot and mouth disease was suspected, and the school sent out a letter urging parents to check for symptoms and seek medical attention for their children should they find any.
It also said that there had been outbreaks of the condition - which usually affects children - at several other local schools.
But after several children were taken to the doctor’s for examination, it was concluded that they in fact had the unpleasant bacterial skin infection impetigo.
A spokesman for Wigan’s school health and safety officer said that there had been no reports to the authority or PCT of any outbreaks of either illness.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a syndrome caused by intestinal viruses and is quite common. It is moderately contagious and is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or faeces of an infected person.
It typically occurs in small epidemics in nursery schools or kindergartens, usually during the summer and autumn months. The usual incubation period is three to seven days.
It is uncommon in adults, but those with immune deficiencies are very susceptible. HFMD is not to be confused with the foot-and-mouth disease that affects sheep, cattle, and swine.
The grandparent of one Lamberhead Green pupil, who did not want to be identified, said: “My grand-daughter came home from school with a letter informing parents that there has been an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease and that some of the pupils have been diagnosed with this. “It also said that other schools in the area have also had a similar outbreak and urging anyone who thinks their child has HFMD to seek medical attention. The letter explains the signs to look out for.
“It was alarming and I contacted the paper because I felt that parents in the Wigan borough who are unaware of this should have a right to know that this disease outbreak was speading in some schools.
“I myself have never heard of this illness before and I feel quite concerned especially for the children who’s parents had not yet been informed.”
But a spokesman for the council and primary care trust said: “There has been no hand, foot and mouth disease reported to us.
“Several children from Lamberhead Green Primary School went to the doctors with symptoms but this proved to be impetigo. They were given a course of antibiotics and taken off school for 48 hours.
“Our school health and safety officer is not aware of any HFMD in any other schools either.”