What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?
Hand foot and mouth disease wiki
Hand foot and mouth disease usually affects children and infants aged less than five years. The one that affects cattle, sheep and pigs (which we have seen many years ago on TV, where owners choose to kill them and burn the carcasses to stop the spread of the disease) is not hand foot and mouth disease, but is called foot and mouth disease (without hand in the name, because technically, these animals don’t have hands). Adults can also contract the disease.
Hands foot and mouth Virus
Two viruses are identified to have caused hand foot and mouth disease. One of the two is named Coxsackievirus A16, which is the more common virus implicated in hand foot and mouth disease cases in the United States, but other types of coxsackieviruses are also involved. Another is the Enterovirus 71 which is also associated with the disease and is the one behind the outbreaks of hand foot and mouth disease in the east and Southeast Asia. You have to remember this in order to understand treatment and prevention of hand foot and mouth disease.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Symptoms
Hand foot and mouth disease or HFMD in short would usually start with fever, weakness or feeling of being sick and sore throat. The fever is usually 38-39 degrees Celsius. One to two days after the onset of fever, mouth sores or herpangina would manifest. The mouth sores would begin as blisters then later become painful mouth ulcers. They are often located at the back of the mouth.
In one to two days, a skin rash would develop. The skin rash of hand foot and mouth disease would involve palms and soles. It would have a characteristic “linear shape”. Skin lesions of hand foot and mouth disease would measure 2 to 8 millimeters in diameter and may be flat, raised, or with fluid inside or vesicles. The color may vary from pink to red. Vesicles in the palms and soles usually do not rupture. Other sites involved by the rash would be knees, elbows, buttocks, even the genital area. The lesions of hand foot and mouth disease usually heal without scarring do you do not have to worry about its cosmetic effects as long as you do not scratch them.
Other manifestations of hand foot and mouth disease are diarrhea, abdominal pain and joint pain. Hand mouth and foot disease caused by Enterovirus 71 may involve the brain and the lungs resulting to aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, meningo encephalitis and flaccid paralysis, but these cases are very atypical and uncommon.
By this time you could have understood the reason behind the name “hand foot and mouth disease”.
The most common complication of hand foot and mouth disease in young children is dehydration. This is because eating and drinking would be very painful when they have those mouth sores. When this happens bring your child immediately to a hospital for fluid replacement. The uncommon complication of brain inflammation was already mentioned.
Is hand foot and mouth disease contagious?
Hand foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and oftentimes occur in outbreaks. It is transmitted by oral-oral and fecal-oral routes or by direct contact. The virus is present in an infected person’s saliva, sputum, nasal secretions, stool and in the fluid of his or her skin blisters. When an infected person makes contact with an object, then it becomes another vehicle for others to acquire the virus when they touch the same object or surface.
Persons sick with hand foot and mouth disease are most infectious during the first week of having the disease. Also, even though they have already recovered from hand foot and mouth disease, they continue to shed the virus in their body secretions. There are also people who have the disease, shed the virus yet do not manifest its signs and symptoms.
Hand foot and mouth disease treatment
It is worth emphasizing that hand foot and mouth disease is caused by a virus. Antibacterials do not work against the disease. There are no antivirals to treat the hand foot and mouth disease too. What you can do, like what is commonly done on other diseases caused by viruses, is supportive treatment. You can relieve pain and fever by taking analgesics like Paracetamol which are over the counter drugs. However, take note that you should not give Aspirin to young children. You can also use a mouthwash or any gargle in order to lessen the pain from mouth sores.
If the patient affected with hand foot and mouth disease is a young child who refuses to eat or drink because of the painful mouth sores, you should immediately bring him or her to a health institution in order to allow immediate intravenous fluid replacement and prevent the repercussions of dehydration. If the patient is an older child or an adult then you must convince him or her to take in food and fluids to immediately recover from the disease. He or she can gargle first before eating in order to numb the sores. As a care provider, you can prepare soup or mashed food in order to make it easier to bring the food down.
Hand foot and mouth disease prevention
Unfortunately, for primary prevention, there is no vaccine for hand foot and mouth disease. However you can use other means in order to lessen risk from acquiring the disease. One of which is frequent hand washing. Disinfecting surfaces in your home is also advised. You can do this by a chlorine bleach solution, placing one tablespoon in 4 cups of water.
If someone you know is sick with hand foot and mouth disease you should avoid kissing, hugging and sharing utensils with that person especially if you have kids. Take note that body resistance is very important to prevent being sick with hand foot and mouth disease but you can still carry the virus and infect other people who are very susceptible especially children.