Hand, foot and mouth disease, more commonly known as HFMD, is a fairly mild but also highly contagious viral disease. HFMD usually affects infants and children. This usually occurs in small epidemics in nursery and kindergarten schools during the summer and autumn months. HFMD is also uncommon in infecting adults but may still be a possibility. HFMD is not related to the so-called Foot and Mouth Disease or FMD which is an infectious viral disease found in farm animals.
HFMD is caused by an infection of the Cocsackie A virus and the Enterovirus 71. oral ingestion seems to be the primary source of infection. The virus can then be spread from one person to another through contact with saliva, mucous discharges from the nose and throat as well as fluid from blisters of an infected person.
Signs and Symptoms
When a child is infected by the virus that causes HFMD, the incubation period usually lasts from three to seven days after which symptoms begin to show up. Fever is usually the first sign of HFMD. It can then be followed sore throat and with the child developing a poor appetite. About one or two days after the fever, an infected child may begin to develop painful sores in the mouth and throat area. Rashes developing in the hands and feet may then follow after another one or two days. Children with HFMD also experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and irritability during the course of the infection.
Currently, there is no specific treatment recommended for HFMD. The treatments that are do available try to take care of the symptoms that may be exhibited by children with HFMD. Since HFMD is a viral disease, doctors usually let it just run its course and only provide treatment to severe cases. In order to lessen the discomfort brought about by HFMD, it is recommended that children get plenty of rest as well as plenty of fluids. Over the counter pain relievers for children may also be given as needed.
The best weapon to combat the spread and infection of HFMD in children is still prevention. Frequent hand washing may help reduce the chances of infection since children are often seen putting their hands in their mouths. This also applies to adults who are with the children. Regular disinfection of common areas is also helpful in further reducing the spread of HFMD. If in case an infection has been discovered, it may be necessary to isolate those with HFMD for awhile in order not to spread the disease to other children.