Hand Foot Mouth Virus – What you need to know.
It is that time of year where viruses are spreading through communities and causing children to stay home from school and adults to stay home from work. Locally, we have seen an increase of one virus in particular, the Hand foot mouth virus. This bug is painful, annoying, and has an incubation time that helps the virus spread easily from someone who is infected to someone who is not. We want to guide you through the symptoms, transmission, and prevention of the hand foot mouth virus to help you and your families steer clear, or understand what you need to do if you contract the virus.
Hand foot mouth virus is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash. It usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a feeling of being sick. One or two days after the fever starts, sores can develop in the mouth, they often begin in the back of the mouth as small red spots that blister and can become ulcers. A skin rash with red spots, and sometimes with blisters, may also develop over one or two days on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores. If a person cannot swallow enough liquid due to the pain, they may need to receive them through an IV in their vein.
Some good news, health complications from the hand foot mouth virus are not common.
Hand foot mouth is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group), including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses. Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of hand foot mouth in the United States, but other coxsackieviruses can also cause the illness. Enterovirus 71 has also been associated with cases and outbreaks of hand foot mouth.
These viruses that cause hand foot mouth can be found in an infected person’s saliva, snot, blister fluid, and feces. An infected person may spread the viruses through close personal contact, coughing or sneezing, contact with feces, or contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. A person who has contracted the virus is most contagious during the first week of sickness. People can also be contagious for days or weeks after symptoms go away. Some people may not develop any symptoms, but they can still spread the virus to others.
If you become sick with the hand foot mouth virus you should stay home. The same applies to children in school and daycare. You can always speak with your doctor if you are not sure when you should return to work or school.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand foot mouth. A person can lower their risk of being infected by the virus, and other viruses as well, by washing their hands frequently with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys. Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with other people. While there is no vaccine, other things can be done to help relieve symptoms, such as taking over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever and using mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain