Hand, foot and mouth disease. What you need to know

The hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral illness common in infants and children under five years of age, but can also occur in adults.

Symptoms of HFMD include fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a feeling of being ill (malaise), as well as blister-like eruptions on the tongue, inside the cheek and on the skin. However, not every patient may exhibit all these symptoms. Some people, especially adults, may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus onto others.

Routine school inspection and active surveillance are part of the Public Health teams’ established protocol in handling  communicable / contagious diseases .However once reports of any cases are received the team works closely with schools to assist with containing the spread of the virus.

There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease and no specific treatment for the illness. Isolated cases of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease are expected.

We recommend consistent use of hygienic measure to reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting the disease.

Parents whose children are infected are asked to keep them at home to reduce further spreading of the virus.

For further information, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621.

What you need to Know…

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection that causes a blister-like rash involving the hands, feet and mouth. The infection occurs most commonly in children less than 10 years of age and most often in the summer and fall months. Outbreaks may occur in childcare settings and preschools.

SYMPTOMS: Low-grade fever that may last one to two days, runny nose and/or sore throat. Blister-like rash occurs in the mouth, on the sides of the tongue, inside the cheeks, and on the gums. These sores may last seven to 10 days. Blister-like rash may occur on the palms and fingers of the hands and on the soles of the feet. The infection usually goes away without any serious problems. Rarely, it may be a cause of viral meningitis (brain infection).

SPREAD: The viruses leave the body through the stool of an infected person and enter another person when hands, food, or objects (such as toys) contaminated with stool are placed in the mouth. It also is spread through droplets that are expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person during sneezing and coughing.

INCUBATION: It usually takes three to seven days after exposure for symptoms to begin.

CONTAGIOUS PERIOD: During the first week of illness and possibly for several weeks after illness. The virus may be shed for several weeks in stool. Infected persons who may not seem sick are able to spread the virus.

EXCLUSION: Until fever is gone and child is well enough to participate in routine activities, (sores or rash may still be present).

TREATMENT: No specific treatment. Call your healthcare provider.

1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, after handling anything soiled with stool, and after contact with secretions from the nose or mouth. Thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Parents/guardians and childcare staff should closely monitor hand washing of all children after children have used the bathroom or have been diapered.
2. Clean and disinfect diapering area and potty chairs after each use, bathroom toilets, sinks, and toys at least daily and when soiled.
3. Cover nose and mouth with tissue when coughing and sneezing, or cough/sneeze into sleeve.
4. Dispose of used tissues.

Source: Public Health Department. HSA