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Viral infection hits 15 childcare centres

At least 15 childcare centres have been hit by an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in far north Queensland.

Health authorities have warned parents, in particular, to be on alert for the viral infection, which has seen 60 people present at Cairns hospital’s emergency department since the start of the year.

At least 15 daycare centres have been affected in the Cairns and Tablelands regions since early January, authorities say.

The disease is usually mild and occurs mainly in young children but can also affect older children and adults.

Of the 60 hospital presentations, nine people had to be admitted.

The disease causes a rash or blisters on the hands and feet, as well as in or around the mouth.

It is most commonly caused by the coxsackie virus and mainly spreads through contact with fluid from inside the blisters, or via droplets from sneezing and coughing.

Hand foot and mouth disease is not related to the foot and mouth disease found in animals.

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