Outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease causes setbacks for football

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Varsity football lines up to practice a play. (Photo by Joelle Sugianto)

Jake Forbes

Five students on the football team were diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease this past week leaving them short-handed for last week’s game against Weymouth.
The first case of coxsackievirus, the disease’s scientific name, occurred Tuesday, Sept. 11, and the administration became aware of the outbreak by the following day, according to head nurse Maureen Pursley.
A letter was sent out by the Health and Human Services Department to parents and guardians last Friday afternoon to alert them of the situation. It explained that “Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common illness of infants and young children” and warned families to watch for common symptoms such as fever, poor appetite, a sore throat, blisters, and rashes.
When asked how the students contracted the disease, Pursley said it is most likely a result of students who have had contact with toddlers in their homes.
She added, “As said in the email to parents, the only thing students should do is a good job of hand washing.”
Several students wore gloves and face masks to prevent themselves from becoming infected, though Pursley said that it is not necessary or beneficial to use these.
Several jokes have been made about the disease over social media. For example, students posted jokes on a school parody Instagram account, @nnhs.memes, about the need for face masks and hand sanitizer.
Some players such as senior Nick Busa, a captain with seniors Kyle Ray-Canada, Christian Hahm, John Nicolazzo, and Joey Torcasio, enjoyed the jokes. “I thought it was funny that kids wore masks and gloves in school, but I was never offended,” said Busa.
“If some people want to attract attention to themselves, that is fine with us,” said Hahm.
He added, “We are more concerned about winning football games and staying together as a team.”
“I think people were just being overly cautious. I understand that they were just trying to take care of themselves,” said athletic director Tom Giusti.
Despite having several players sidelined from the virus, North overcame Weymouth 21-19. Despite not being able to play with their usual line-up, “the players that had to step up did a good job,” said Busa.
According to Hahm, the team is now focused on their game against Needham on Saturday.