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Information From the School Nurse About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease In Your Child’s School

Definition

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a mild, but highly contagious viral infection common in young children. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. It spreads from person to person, usually through unwashed hands or contaminated surfaces. The most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease is coxsackievirus infection.

Symptoms

 

The signs and symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease include:

§ Fever

§ Sore throat

§ Painful red blister-like lesions on the tongue, mouth, palms of the hands or soles of the feet                   

§ Headache

§ Fatigue

§ Irritability in infants and toddlers

§ Loss of appetite

The usual period from initial infection to the onset of signs and symptoms (incubation period) is three to seven days. Fever is often the first sign of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, followed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite and the feeling of being sick (malaise). One or two days after fever begins, painful sores may develop in the mouth or throat. Rash on the hands and feet can follow within one or two days, and may also appear on the buttocks. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease may cause all of the above signs and symptoms or just a few of them.

Treatments and drugs

There's no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and antibiotics aren't effective because it's a viral infection. The illness simply must run its course. To help lessen discomfort, doctors often recommend:

§ Rest, increase fluids- milk-based fluids may be easier to tolerate than acidic liquids, such as juice or soda. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), if needed

Signs and symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease usually clear up in seven to 10 days.

Prevention

Certain precautions can help to reduce the chances of infection with hand-foot-and-mouth disease:

§ Wash hands carefully.

§ Disinfect common areas.

§ Teach good hygiene.

§ Isolate contagious people.

Because hand-foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious, people with the illness should limit their exposure to others while they have active signs and symptoms. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most contagious during the first week of illness. However, it may spread for weeks after signs and symptoms have disappeared. Keep children with hand-foot-and-mouth disease out of child care or school until fever is gone and mouth sores have healed. If you have the illness, stay home from work.