Friday, 2 July 2010

Hand foot and mouth disease - sounds terrible but really.. isn't!

On Wednesday, my nanny took the kids to a friend's house (where they go a lot) and one of the other friend's children was diagnosed with hand foot and mouth disease!  The name itself sounds TERRIBLE but after googling it, it's actually quite a benign disease but the mouth ulcers/blisters can be rather UGH.

What is it?
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common childhood illness that is caused by a viral infection (most commonly the Coxsackie A16 virus). It typically affects children under the age of 10 years, but older children and adults can also be affected. There is no relationship between hand, foot and mouth disease and the condition known as foot-and-mouth disease that affects animals.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms generally start to appear 3-7 days after becoming infected with the virus, beginning with a mild fever, tiredness, reduced appetite, and sore throat. The characteristic features — mouth sores and skin rash — usually develop one or 2 days after the onset of fever.
The rash appears as flat or raised red spots, which may form blisters. The rash is not itchy, and usually affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. In younger children, especially those still wearing nappies, the rash may also appear on the buttocks. The mouth sores, which start as small red spots and form painful blisters, often turn into ulcers.

Is it infectious and is it serious?
You can catch the virus from an infected person if you come into contact with their saliva, secretions from their nose or throat (through coughing or sneezing), fluid from blisters, or faeces.  You can help prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands frequently, as well as washing and disinfecting contaminated items and surfaces. Try to make sure your child doesn't share items such as eating utensils, cups or towels while they are ill.  HFMD is usually a mild disease, and children generally recover within 7-10 days. Rarely, a child with HFMD may develop complications such as meningitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain).

It's a viral illness so you can't give antibiotics or anything.  Mostly symptomatic relief like paracetamol for analgesia and fevers.

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