Let’s be clear right away that hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common disease among young children, it is not usually serious, but it is a very contagious virus. It has no relationship to the animal disease known as foot-and-mouth disease which preys on sheep, pigs, and cows. Now that we understand this is a human disease, let’s learn about preventing and treating hand, foot, and mouth disease in your child.
Breeding Grounds For Childhood Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease
Now that many child care centers and preschools are slowly reopening along with schools, watch out for signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease. It is a highly contagious virus and is spread through human contact. It usually flares in the summer and early fall.
Although this virus seems to target young children under the age of 5, it can still affect older children and even adults. Parents should be watchful of symptoms.
How This Virus Spreads
Like most viruses, hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread through respiration. When children talk, cough, or sneeze, droplets spread out 3 feet. If another child is close, they may then rub their eyes, nose, and mouth and become contaminated.
In addition, other children can become infected by touching objects a sick child has previously touched. The virus can also be spread through fecal matter of an infected child which occurs over the course of frequent diaper changes in a daycare setting.
Symptoms And Treatment Of Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease
The virus usually begins with a fever, sore throat, reduced appetite, and nausea. These early symptoms are then followed by blisters on the inside of the mouth, bottom of feet, and hands.
It is normally only treated with medications to relieve the symptoms. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are best. The symptoms should disappear within a week, but if they last longer than 12 days, parents should make an appointment with PediatriCare of Northern Virginia.
Be sure your child is drinking enough fluids during this time so as to not become dehydrated.
Preventing Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease And Its Spread
There are ways to protect your child from succumbing to this virus, and many are similar to COVID.
They include the following precautions:
- Wash your hands after changing diapers
- Don’t allow children to share cups or eating utensils
- Keep your (and your children’s) hands away from your/their nose, eyes, and mouth
- Frequently disinfect surfaces and toys
- Wash children’s bedding frequently, especially pillows
Adults can carry the virus too, but their immune system is stronger. It is wise to keep children home the first week after becoming infected, but unfortunately the virus can remain in their system for weeks.
Contact PediatriCare of Northern Virginia at (703) 330-3939 if you have additional questions about hand, foot, and mouth disease, if your child’s fever is prolonged, or if your child is becoming dehydrated.