Parents know how easy it is for their children to get sick, especially when an illness is spreading through a school or a daycare. A cough, a cold, the flu… this time of year, many kids are sure to get sick. The scary thing is, there’s an illness spreading that’s a lot worse than a cold. Doctors are urging parents to learn about hand, foot and mouth disease in order to recognize the symptoms.
What Is Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease?
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral illness that most commonly affects infants and children younger than five years old. It can also occur in adults. The disease affects about 200,000 Americans every year. It usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite, and a sore throat. A day or two after the fever starts, painful sores can begin to develop in the mouth. They start in the back of the mouth as small, red spots. The spots then begin to blister and can turn into ulcers. A skin rash also develops with red spots and blisters, usually on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also spread to the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.
Hand, foot and mouth disease can lead to dehydration when water is too painful to swallow due to the mouth sores. The disease is highly contagious. It can spread easily from contact with mucus or saliva, which is why it’s so common in schools. It can be spread through a sneeze, a kiss or even a handshake.
Experts at the West Central Health District in Georgia are warning parents that we could be looking at a record-breaking year for the disease. It’s already causing outbreaks among both children and college students. A large outbreak has been making its way through Georgia, and it may affect the southeastern states. Florida State University experienced an outbreak in September, as did at least four schools across New Jersey.
Common Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease to Watch Out For!
- A sore throat
- Painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks
- A red rash with blistering on the palms and soles
- Irritability in infants and toddlers
- Loss of appetite
Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease Prevention
You can lower your risk of catching hand, foot and mouth disease by being extremely vigilant with your hygiene and your children’s hygiene.
- Wash your hands often, especially after changing diapers or going to the bathroom.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Clean and disinfect children’s toys regularly.
If you suspect hand foot and mouth disease, be sure to keep your kids home from school until they have been cleared by a doctor. There is no specific treatment for the illness, but rest and plenty of fluids are usually recommended.
Warmer winters mean a greater chance of a hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreak.