PARENTS have been in a state of panic since a contagious illness broke out among Dublin children, causing fever and a rash on their hands, feet, and mouths.
Incidents of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) have been reported in areas including Clondalkin, Tallaght, Milltown, Balbriggan, the city centre and Kildare in the past few weeks.
The illness affects children aged under 10, according to the HSE, and it is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges of those infected and by coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms of the disease are fever, followed by the appearance of painful sores around the mouth and throat. A rash can also appear on the hands, feet and inside the child's cheeks.
Creches and primary schools will be on red alert and parents are being asked not to bring their children to school if they suspect they have the disease.
Josephine Fogarty, from Kildare said her son Evan (2) was hospitalised overnight two weeks ago when he became severely dehydrated because he couldn't drink or eat.
She told the Herald: "He started feeling unwell and he wasn't himself and he wouldn't eat and he kept pointing to his mouth saying 'sore'. He didn't eat anything all day.
"But then he hadn't had anything to eat or drink in four days, and he wouldn't put anything in his mouth, so he had to stay overnight and go on a drip."
Evan had to remain in isolation at Tallaght hospital because doctors feared that he was still highly contagious.
Infected people are most contagious during the first week of the illness, and symptoms eventually die away, similar to the chicken pox.
"The doctor said there's nothing you can give them, an antibiotic or anything. It takes five to seven days for it to go away," said Ms Fogarty.
Meanwhile, a HSE spokesperson said: "Younger children less than 10 years are more susceptible to infection due to close contact. However, adult cases are not unusual."