Hand Foot And Mouth Disease
What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that commonly affects children younger than 5 years old. However, sometimes, it can also be seen in adults. These children are commonly present with fever, rashes in the hand and feet and mouth ulcers.
What causes Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
It is caused by a virus group known as Enteroviruses. The other viruses in this group include Polioviruses, Coxsackieviruses, Echovirus and Enteroviruses. Coxsackieviruses 16 and Enteroviruses 71 are the common viruses associated with hand, foot and mouth disease.
How does Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease spread?
The child may get the infection through direct contact with nose and throat secretions, saliva or stool from another infected child. The child is most contagious during the first week of illness and should stay away from school and day care centres till recovered. Some adults who get hand, foot and mouth disease may not have symptoms, but, may still spread the virus.
What are the symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
It starts with fever, sore throat, reduced appetite and feeling unwell. One to two days after fever, rashes and painful ulcers usually develop in the mouth. The rashes are usually on the palms and sole of the feet, but may also be seen over the knees, elbows, buttock or genital area. Sometimes the children are not able to drink enough due to the painful oral ulcers and can become dehydrated. HFMD can also be complicated by viral meningitis presenting with fever, headache, stiff neck or back pain.
How can the virus be detected?
The virus can be detected from the mouth ulcer, saliva or stool samples.
What is the treatment for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
There is no specific treatment. Supportive treatment includes adequate hydration, fever medicine and throat sprays to relieve the mouth ulcers. DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN TO INFANTS AND CHILDREN.
The children should be kept away from day care centres and school. The child would need admission if there is high fever, lethargy, vomiting, unable to eat or drink, drowsiness or jerky movements of limbs (fits).
How to prevent Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
There is no vaccine available to protect against the virus.
The risk of spreading can be reduced by washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing the diaper of the child. Clean and disinfect the toys and surfaces touched by the child with HFMD. Children who are down with this disease should avoid going to day care centres and school. Avoid crowded places.