If you’ve had a child in daycare or in elementary school, you may be very familiar with hand, foot and mouth disease. Found most commonly in children younger than five years, hand, foot and mouth disease is a contagious illness caused by different viruses.
Hand, foot and mouth disease usually passes without medical treatment in seven to ten days, and is usually not serious. Younger children usually develop hand, foot and mouth disease more often because they have not yet developed immunity to the specific virus that caused the infection. People can get hand, foot and mouth disease more than once because it is not caused by a single virus. Causes
Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by many different viruses that belong to the enterovirus genus group. Several types of viruses under this group have been attributed to the cause and spread of hand, foot and mouth disease. These viruses can be found in a person’s saliva or nasal mucus, blister fluid or feces. You can become exposed to the viruses that cause hand, foot and mouth disease very easily. Physical contact with an infected person, being in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, having contacted with infected feces and contact with infected surfaces like doorknobs are all ways that you can be infected with hand, foot and mouth disease. Symptoms
Generally, someone who has contracted hand, foot and mouth disease is most contagious within the first week of contracting the disease. Some adults may get hand, foot and mouth disease and have no symptoms at all, but children are more likely to show symptoms. Symptoms include:
• Reduced appetite
• Sore throat
• Feeling of malaise (feeling unwell)
• Painful sores in the mouth
• Skin rash on palms of hands and soles of feet. May also appear on knees, elbows and buttocks
• Dehydration Complications
Like any disease, complications are not common but certainly possible. Viral meningitis can occur with hand, foot and mouth disease. Meningitis causes fever, headache, stiff neck and back pain. Encephalitis or paralysis can occur, but it is very rare.
Enteroviruses can cause inflammatory conditions of the heart, but this is also very rare.
Only the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease can be treated. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the disease itself. You can take steps to reduce your chance of becoming infected with hand, foot and mouth disease by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, especially after changing diapers. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging and sharing cups with people who have hand, foot and mouth disease. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces especially if there is an outbreak. Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.