What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral illness of infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a skin rash.
Is HFMD contagious?
Yes, HFMD 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. A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness. HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals.
Who is at risk for HFMD?
HFMD occurs mainly in children under 10 years old, but it can occur in adults too. Everyone is at risk of infection with viruses that cause HFMD, but not everyone who is infected becomes ill. Infants, children, and adolescents are more likely to be susceptible to infection and illness from these viruses because they are less likely than adults to be immune to them.
How is HFMD diagnosed?
HFMD is one of many infections that result in mouth sores. Usually, the physician can distinguish between HFMD and other causes of mouth sores based on the age of the patient, the pattern of symptoms reported by the patient or parent, and the appearance of the rash and sores on examination.
A throat swab specimen or stool specimen may be sent to a laboratory. However, since the testing often takes 2 to 4 weeks to obtain a final answer, the physician usually does not order these tests.
How is HFMD treated?
No specific treatment is available. Symptomatic treatment is given to provide relief from fever, aches, or pain from the mouth ulcers.
Can HFMD be prevented?
The risk of infection can be lowered by following good hygiene practices. Preventive measure include:
For more information on Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC Public Information