Hand- foot-and-mouth disease is only a human disease, and should not be confused with foot and mouth disease that affects cattle, sheep and swine. The diseases are not related in any way. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral disease that affect mostly children and young adults. It is most prevalent during summer and fall.
Early symptoms of this condition vary, but generally include such things as a sore throat and mouth, a loss of appetite, and a fever. In a few days, a rash appears in the mouth, on the fingers, on the hands and on the feet. It may also occur on the buttocks and genitals. Blisters develop on the rash as well as around the mouth and tongue. The mouth area will inevitably feel sore and irritated.
The best treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease involve treating the symptoms as there is, as yet, no known cure. Make sure the child is kept well hydrated. Water is adequate but give anything reasonable, that the child will accept. Cold drinks or frozen treats are usually well-tolerated, and may help relieve the soreness in the mouth. A topical lotion such as calamine lotion may be used on the hands and feet to relieve itching. To reduce the fever and pain, give acetaminophen. Consult your physician regarding an appropriate dose. Remember that no-one under twenty years of age should be given Aspirin, as it is linked to the potentially deadly disease called Reye’s Syndrome. Bland food will be most appropriate.
Because the hand-foot-and-mouth disease virus spreads easily, it is better to keep children isolated until all symptoms disappear or even longer if you physician advises. The virus is spread through contact with infected saliva, mucous, and stools, as well as from infected surfaces and the discharge fro the blisters. The best prevention against the disease is to carefully wash the hands after any possible contact with the virus or with an infected person. Remember that those most susceptible to any condition or disease, are the very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Protect those in your household.
Although this disease may appear unsightly, it is rare that complications occur. If you have any concerns, about your child’s symptoms or progress, or if all the symptoms have not disappeared in about one week, or seem to be worsening, see your family physician immediately.