Hand, foot and mouth disease has seen a recent resurgence and both local daycare facilities and health officials are warning parents to be on the lookout for this highly contagious childhood disease.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in older children and adults. It usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a feeling of being unwell (malaise). One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth (herpangina). The mouth sores begin, often in the back of the mouth, as small red spots that blister and can become ulcers. A skin rash with red spots, and sometimes with blisters, may also develop over one or two days on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.
Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores.
Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people, especially adults, may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, or contact with blister fluid or feces (stool) of an infected person. You can lower your risk of being infected by
Washing your hands often with soap and water
Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items
Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected people.
There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
You can lower your risk of being infected by doing the following:
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet. Visit CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives! for more information.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys.
Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease.
If a person has mouth sores, it might be painful to swallow. However, it is important for people with hand, foot, and mouth disease to drink enough liquids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids). If a person cannot swallow enough liquids, they may need to receive them through an IV in their vein.
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease. However, you can do some things to relieve symptoms, such as
Take over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever (Caution: Aspirin should not be given to children.)
Use mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain
If you are concerned about your symptoms you should contact your health care provider.