Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a very contagious viral disease that can cause fever, mouth sores and rashes on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Although, the condition can occur at any age, HFMD usually affects children aged 10 and below.
The most common virus causing the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the coxsackievirus A16, which is a member of the enterovirus group. Once infected, a person may experience symptoms including: fever, general feeling of being unwell (body malaise), poor appetite and sore throat; mouth sores; and skin rashes on the palms of hands, soles of feet, and buttocks.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the occurrence of HFMD. However, there are simple steps that you and your family can do to prevent or decrease your risk of contracting the disease.
Reduce your risk of getting infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease by following these tips:
Wash hands regularly. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after changing diapers and after using the toilet. Frequent hand-washing not only minimizes getting HFMD, it also reduces your risk of contracting other disease-causing microorganisms.
Soap and clean, running water are best. However, if these are not available, an alcohol-based product like a hand gel may be used. You should, however, make sure that the product contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect dirty surfaces and soiled objects. You should make it a habit to clean surfaces, especially those frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs including toys with soap and water. Disinfect them by using a water and chlorine bleach solution. The CDC says that the solution can be made by adding a tablespoon of bleach to 4 cups of water.
Do not share eating utensils. Avoid sharing of eating utensils, such as spoons, forks, and cups.
Avoid close contact with an infected person. Hugging and kissing a person infected with HFMD should be avoided. An infected person can easily transmit the virus through body fluids including saliva, blister fluids, and droplets from coughing and sneezing.
Children with the disease should not be sent to day care or school, especially when fever and mouth sores are still present.
Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease (HFMD). http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/enterovirus/hfhf.htm. Accessed on October 21, 2010.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clean Hands Save Lives. http://www.cdc.gov/cleanhands/. Accessed on October 21, 2010.