MARSHALL — The children’s wing of the Marshall-Lyon County Library is a popular place for children and their parents. In addition to books, there are computers for children to play on and also a variety of toys including barns, farm animals, a small kitchen and plastic food such as pizza and cake.
Recently at the library the toys are nowhere to be seen. The reason? Just being proactive, said Michele Leininger, the library director.
“A family called us as a precautionary measure to let us know that their children had been playing with the toys at the library and then, a number of days later, had been diagnosed with hand-foot-mouth disease,” Leininger said. “We removed a number of the toys, particularly the ones around the kitchen play area, which is where they had been playing. We also temporarily removed the puzzles and board books, but were able to get those all wiped down with sanitizing cloths and get them back out within a few days. All surfaces in the children’s wing were also sanitized immediately.”
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is caused by a virus, according to webmd.com. “Symptoms include ulcers, or sores, inside or around the mouth, and a rash or blisters on the hands, feet, legs, or buttocks. And while it’s not pleasant, it also isn’t serious.
“Anyone can get the disease, but children under age 10 are most likely to catch it,” said webmd.com.
The staff gathered up the toys to make sure they wouldn’t be a source of contagion.
“All the toys that may have been touched were removed last Monday, and the incubation period is three to six days, so we’re past that,” said librarian Paula Nemes.
The staff put out blocks for children to play with in the interim.
“There were also a number of building block toys that were not in the area at the time and therefore, not exposed,” Leininger said. “Due to summer reading activities we had been using them in the meeting room. We were able to put those out for kids to have something more to play with.”
The bulk of the toys will be out on the floor soon for children to enjoy.
“The rest, including the kitchen and farm toys, has been waiting for us to have time to get them sanitized, which will hopefully happen next week,” Leininger said. “We have a number of people on vacation, including our children’s librarian, and have just not had the staff time to get everything sanitized as quickly as we would have liked. But they will be back. We have had a number of children and parents tell us how much they miss them.”
Leininger said the toys are regularly cleaned.
“We do annually clean and sanitize all the toys and objects in the children’s room,” she said. “This year, that is happening just a bit earlier than usual and all at once, instead of a few toys at a time.”
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