Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease that usually affects children younger than 5 years old. The disease starts out with these symptoms: • fever • no appetite • irritable • sore throat A few days later, sores develop in the mouth that blister and look like little ulcers. These may spread to the back of the throat, tongue, or cheeks. A few days later a rash shows up on the palms and soles of the feet but may also be seen on the knees, elbows, genitals, and buttocks. The problem with hand, foot and mouth disease is that it may lead to the development of a headache and stiff neck and then meningitis or encephalitis although this is rare. Hand, foot and mouth disease may also lead to loss of the nail. Cause Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by the coxsackievirus A16 or enterovirus 71. It is contagious. It usually occurs in the summer or early fall and lasts 7 to 10 days. Treatment and Prevention Hand, foot and mouth disease can be prevented by: • direct contact from an infected person • cover your mouth when coughing • don’t share eating utensils with someone with the disease • avoid kissing an infected person • clean toys with soap and water Medical diagnosis of the condition may be helpful for peace of mind but antibiotics won’t help since the disease is caused by a virus. Aspirin is not recommended.