A number of Canadian families are returning from a popular Mexican resort area with an unwanted souvenir following a suspected outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease.

While vacationing at a resort in Cancun this week, Katrina Boblin of Black Diamond captured photos of her 18-month-old daughter’s red bumps and posted the images to social media in the hopes of warning others of a possible outbreak.

“She started out with a fever and what I thought were bug bites at first,” said Boblin. “Then the fever got worse and she started vomiting.”

The Royalton Riviera Cancun resort offered Boblin complimentary late checkout if she signed a non-disclosure agreement. She refused the resort’s offer and chose to share her tale online.

“I just wanted to make sure it didn't happen to anyone else because it was awful.” said Boblin. "When I talked to the hotel they weren't willing to inform the other families that were there at the moment and that's all I wanted."

Boblin's Facebook post has been shared more than 19,000 times and she says she's received a Facebook message from a mother whose child contracted hand, foot and mouth disease at the resort in mid-February.

A family from Kamloops had a similar experience during their January visit to Tulum, roughly 100 kilometres south of Cancun on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, when their toddler contracted an ailment.

“Just like that little girl that was posted on Facebook, it starts at the feet but worked its way up just past the knees and elbows,” said Brandy, who asked for her surname to be withheld. “Then his mouth was covered as well.”

A doctor in Cancun diagnosed the 16-month-old boy’s condition as hand, foot, and mouth disease, which was becoming increasingly frequent in the area.

“He said that he'd handed out multiple prescriptions for this over the last week, that there must be some sort of an outbreak because he's been handing them out like crazy,” “At the resort, they were like ‘Oh, we've never seen this before’."

Symptoms of the infection include fever, vomiting and blisters within the patient’s throat and on their skin. Brandy suspects her son caught the virus at the resort likely from a high chair or playpen.

Jason Kmet, a pharmacist with the Polaris Travel Clinic in Calgary, says scientists are working to develop a vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease but, for now, the best prevention is to thoroughly wash hands and surfaces that may carry the virus.

Kmet says there are medications available to treat the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease but the patient normally heals in due time.

“Very rarely it can turn into a more serious neurological problem but that’s relatively a minority,” explains Kmet. “Usually it just passes through time.”

The Royalton Riviera Cancun issued the following statement to CTV Calgary regarding the possible hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak:

Regrettably, we have recently been alerted that some children that visited Royalton Riviera Cancun have exhibited symptoms of Hand Foot & Mouth Disease while staying with us. As the health and safety of our guests are of the utmost priority, we take great care and dedication to prevent the spread of any germs on hotel grounds. 

On a daily basis, we engage in extensive precautionary measures and thorough sanitization practices, including the following: maintenance of pool and jacuzzi chlorination levels and filter systems; daily sanitization of all guest rooms and public spaces including the Kids Clubhouse and Hangout Teens Club;  and thorough restaurant cleanings, which includes disinfecting high chairs and wrapping them in plastic cling wrap between use.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern these unforeseen circumstances may have caused our guests.  As always, we encourage guests to practice good hygiene by using hand sanitizers provided throughout the resort.  We ask that if a guest is exhibiting Hand Foot & Mouth symptoms during their stay with us to immediately visit our onsite medical doctor. ​

Brandy says the staff at the undisclosed resort near Tulum did not take her son’s health concerns seriously.

"It's one thing that our holiday is ruined but you're going to give this playpen and dirty high chair and everything to somebody else?” asks Brandy. “If somebody has a disease like this and I've told you about it, surely somebody's got to come in and do a deep cleaning of the room because my baby's picked that up somewhere and going to pass it on to another baby and another baby and another baby."


With files from CTV’s Alesia Fieldberg