Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: what parents need to know

Local News

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a mild, contagious infection most common in children under the age of five.

It’s caused by enteroviruses that are most dominant in the summer months, making children more susceptible to the disease this time of year.

It’s characterized by rashes and sores by the hands and feet and can eventually lead to sores in the mouth due to small children sticking their hands into their mouths.

“It begins with a fever, and then a couple of days later, they start to get red spots on the palms of their hands or feet or both,” said Dr. Thomas Kerkering of Carilion Clinic. “Where we really see it, and where it really causes distress is you get those spots or sores on the back of your mouth.”

The period of infection can last anywhere from three to six days, and will normally go away by itself.

“It’s a virus with no vaccine, and it’s virus for which there is no medication so that’s why treatment is simply supportive,” said Kerkering. “But again, most of the time, it never causes any really serious types of problems.”

Parents do need to be on the lookout for any signs of dehydration. With a sore throat, young children tend to drool which can then lead to dehydration concerns.

Doctors say that siblings under the age of five will most likely contract the disease from each other.

“It’s probably not going to happen that you’re going to prevent it from your other child,” said Kerkering. It’s passed from close contact, and the biggest thing to do in a big family is to wash hands.”

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