Parents of young children need to be on the lookout.
Cases of the highly contagious infection, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, have been on the rise in our area lately.
Centra Care physicians averaged more weekly diagnoses of Hand, Food, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) than usual over the last month.
HFMD is a viral illness that is most commonly diagnosed in children under 5 who haven’t been exposed to the virus and developed immunity; however, adults can also get the virus.
It is characterized by painful mouth ulcers and/or a skin rash, and is accompanied by fever, body aches, sore throat and fatigue.
Because there is no cure, the illness must run its course, about 7 – 10 days. The biggest risk of HFMD in young children is dehydration, as they won’t drink due to throat pain.
Symptoms can be treated with over the counter pain relievers and throat-numbing sprays.
Parents need to be sure children are getting plenty of fluids.
What to Look For:
- The disease usually begins with a fever, poor appetite, malaise, and a sore throat.
- One or 2 days after fever onset, painful sores usually develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. The sores are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks.
- A non-itchy skin rash develops over 1–2 days. The rash has flat or raised red spots, sometimes with blisters. The rash is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia.
- A person with HFMD may have only the rash or only the mouth sores.
Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Typically once someone has had the HFMD they build up immunity, but there are several forms of the virus so it is possible to get it again.
Frequent hand washing is essential to avoid the illness. Also, avoid close contact with someone that has HFMD, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing utensils and drinks.
If you think you or one of your children may have HFMD, it’s a good idea to seek medical care to confirm the disease. There are several illnesses that can look like HFMD: strep throat, scarlet fever, cold sores and mono – which are treatable.
HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth (also called hoof-and-mouth) disease, a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine; however, the two diseases are not related—different viruses cause them. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.