Foot and Mouth Disease Vs Hand Foot and Mouth Disease



Foot and Mouth Disease

Comparing foot and mouth disease with hand foot and mouth disease will highlight the similarities and differences between the two.  Foot and mouth disease is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly if not effectively isolated and contained.  It is a disease that affects animals with hooves such as cows, pigs, goats and sheep.  When animals have foot and mouth disease, they usually have fever and blisters as symptoms.  The virus that causes foot and mouth disease is known as Apthovirus. The organism can be easily transmitted through animal hosts.  This is different from the virus that causes hand foot and mouth disease.


When the virus transfers to sheep, the symptoms of foot and mouth disease often remain undetected.  Sheep can easily spread the virus to other unsuspecting animals.  If the virus transfers to pigs, it will become more powerful since pigs’ bodies will start to produce more virus particles.  The number of particles is more than what cattle can make.  When pigs have foot and mouth disease, the virus becomes deadlier and more contagious.  The virus causing foot and mouth disease will also remain viable for more than a hundred days even if it lives in the soil, hay or fecal matter.  However, the virus cannot survive for long when temperature and humidity rises.  This is the same characteristic of the hand foot and mouth disease virus.  Although a common illness of human children, hand foot and mouth disease is considered a viral and infectious disease.  Transmission of the virus is rapid if not controlled.

The foot and mouth disease can be transmitted to humans by drinking milk from infected animals.  People who come in contact with infected tissues of animal carcass are also at risk to foot and mouth disease.  When the disease has affected human beings, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever and the appearance of lesions in the mouth and pharynx.  In some cases, lesions will appear on the skin usually on the soles of feet and palms.  In hand foot and mouth disease, lesions or sores will appear on the hands, feet and mouth.

Prevention and Treatment

Foot and mouth disease in animals has no known cure but preventive measures are in place.   Farm owners are advised to monitor their livestock and cattle.  When the disease is detected in one of the animals, slaughtering the host animal is recommended to prevent an outbreak.  Vaccinations can help control the spread of the disease.  Infected animals should be taken to the veterinarian for immediate vaccination.


The morbidity rate is high if foot and mouth disease affects hoofed animals in groups.  This is unlike the hand foot and mouth disease which do not pose serious risks.  Severe effects of the disease include permanent hoof damage and low milk production.  Although the foot and mouth disease has afflicted animals around the world, it was eliminated in most regions of Europe and North America.  Even if the outbreak of the disease can happen locally, it is considered a major threat to international trade.  Disease-free livestock are susceptible to re-infection once in contact with the virus.

When this happens, foot and mouth disease can spread rapidly in a specific location especially when there is delay in detection.  A disease outbreak greatly affects the production of livestock.  A certain country will be banned from exporting animals unless declared free from foot and mouth disease.  A major outbreak can mean loss of money and livelihood for economies.  Countries will be afraid to import livestock from infected regions to prevent the spread of disease in the locality.


Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and mouth disease should not be confused with hand foot and mouth disease.  The virus causing the foot and mouth disease primarily targets animals while the hand foot and mouth disease is caused by a different type of virus known as coxsackie.


Like the foot and mouth disease, the virus for hand foot and mouth disease is also highly contagious to humans.  Children are the most susceptible to the hand foot and mouth disease especially during the summer and fall season.  Toddlers are commonly affected by this disease.  If a child contracts the disease, the other members of the household might possibly be infected as well.  Everyone should stay inside the house to avoid infecting other people.

The virus carrying the hand foot and mouth disease is transferred when there is oral contact with bacteria from fecal matter.  When the child ingests the virus, it will attach itself to the throat and lymph nodes.   A few days later, lesions will begin to appear as the virus will spread to other areas of the body.  The incubation period of the virus is usually between 3 to 6 days.  The hand foot and mouth disease is self-limiting and cause little inconvenience to the child.  The normal effects of the virus will wear off after the incubation period is over.

Prevention and Treatment

Treatment for hand foot and mouth disease should be administered as soon as possible to young children.  They need to be monitored to prevent dehydration since lesions in the mouth can make it difficult to eat and drink.  Parents with infected children are advised to prepare soft food for the first few days.  Giving children plenty of cool and clear liquids can prevent the loss of electrolytes.  Children also need to wash their mouths with warm water.  This will reduce the risk of secondary infection of lesions in the mouth.

Since hand foot and mouth disease is very contagious and can easily across communities, infected children should stay at home.  Members of the family who have close contact with a child who has hand foot and mouth disease are closely observed to prevent the spread of the virus.  If fever lasts for more than 3 days and the child refuses to eat anything, a healthcare provider should examine the patient right away.

Currently, there is no antiviral drug treatment for hand foot and mouth disease.  Parents with young children are advised to observe proper personal hygiene to prevent contact with the virus.  Children who are going to school should be taught to always wash their hands before meals.  It is best to read more information about the symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease for early detection of the virus.

Since there is no known treatment to for foot and mouth disease and hand foot and mouth disease, communities have the responsibility to spread awareness and preventive techniques to avoid the potential threat of these diseases.  It is important to practice good hygiene and cleanliness in surroundings to get rid of disease-causing bacteria.

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