The Union County Health Department is asking parents to be alert for symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease.
The health department has received reports of two outbreaks, both within child-care settings, said public information officer Jennifer Thrush. Between the two outbreaks, there are 15 cases.
Thrush said officials believe there are likely more cases in the community, but because only linked cases -- not individual incidents -- are reportable, there is no additional data. Health department officials are not releasing the location of the outbreaks.
According to the health department, hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness that gets its name from the distinctive rash that appears on the affected areas.
The disease, which is caused by a virus, most often affects infants and children younger than 5 and is seen more in summer and fall. It should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which affects livestock but not humans.
The disease usually lasts seven to 10 days and is spread through close contact, including coughing and sneezing; contact with feces, such as when changing diapers; and touching virus-contaminated objects or surfaces.
Symptoms may include a mild fever and cold-like symptoms, including a sore throat; painful sores in the mouth that begin as small red spots that blister and often become ulcers; and blister-like bumps on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (these may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genitals).
Parents who suspect their child has hand, foot and mouth disease should make an appointment with their pediatrician.