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Health Advisory 2: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Hand Disease (image from http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md/dermatlas/handfootmouth.html)HFMD is a common illness of infants and children, affecting mainly kids under 10 years old, but may also occur in adults. It is caused by a virus (Coxsackie A16) and is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease of cattle, sheep, and swine.

Although the names are similar, the two diseases are not related at all and are caused by different viruses. HFMD is usually not serious. It is a mild disease and nearly all patients recover without medical treatment in 7 - 10 days. Foot Disease (image from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/2157.htm)It is moderately contagious. Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.

HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals. Some benefit may be gained, however, by isolating from animals children who have blisters in their mouths and drool or who have weeping lesions on their hands.

Cause : Enteroviruses (Coxsackievirus A16)

Mode of Transmission :

Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.

A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness.

Incubation Period : 3 to 7 days

Signs & Symptoms :

Fever

Sores in the mouth

Rash with blisters (tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, palms of the hands and soles of the feet)

Treatment :

No specific treatment is available for this or other enterovirus infections. Symptomatic treatment is given to provide relief from fever, aches, or pain from the mouth ulcers.

Prevention :

not available, but the risk of infection can be lowered by good hygienic practices.

Preventive measures include :

Frequent handwashing

Cleaning of contaminated surfaces and soiled items first with soap and water Disinfecting of contaminated surfaces with diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach.

Avoidance of close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children with HFMD may also help to reduce of the risk of transmission to caregivers.

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