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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

What is hand, foot and mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by a virus. Illness occurs mostly in children younger than 10 years old but it is possible for adults to become sick.

Symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease

  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat

One to two days later a blister like rash develops on the hands, feet and mouth and may last up to 10 days.

Spread of hand, foot and mouth disease

The virus is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, blisters and the stool of people who are sick. People can spread this illness when the first symptoms appear and for several weeks. The virus may be found in the stool for up to several weeks. Outbreaks may occur in child care settings. This illness is most likely to occur in the summer and fall months.

Is hand, foot and mouth disease serious?

Sick people usually experience a mild to moderate illness.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment. Comfort measures include control of fever with non-aspirin pain relievers, use of soft foods until able to eat regular food and drinking plenty of fluids.

How is hand, foot and mouth disease prevented?

There is no vaccine or medication to prevent this disease however the following measures may help to reduce the risk of becoming ill.

  • Frequent handwashing, especially after diaper changes and toileting.
  • Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Disinfection of toys and common use items may be helpful.
  • Children need to remain home until fever has resolved and blisters are dry.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.