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Quick guide to hand foot & mouth disease

 
Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually caused by a viral infection. It can occur at any age, but is common in children under 10 years old. It is not the same as Foot and Mouth disease which occurs in farm animals. Read about the symptoms, how it is spread and how it can be treated.
Would you recognise if your little one had hand, foot and mouth disease?

We take a look at the symptoms, how to treat it and how to prevent it spreading further.
 

Quick guide to Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

 

1. What is hand, foot & mouth disease?


Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually caused by a viral infection. It can occur at any age, but is common in children under 10 years old.

The highest number of cases usually occur during summer and autumn, but it can be prevalent all year round.

It is not the same as Foot and Mouth disease which occurs in farm animals.
 

2. What are the symptoms of hand, foot & mouth disease?


The illness usually has a sudden onset with a fever and a sore throat.

This begins 1 or 2 days before small, red blisters appear on the gums, side of the tongue and the inside of your little one’s cheeks.

A rash will also appear on their palms and soles of their feet, around their mouth and occasionally around their buttocks area.

Symptoms appear 3-5 days after becoming infected. The illness may last 7-10 days.
 

3. How is hand, foot & mouth disease spread?


People can become infected after being in contact with someone who is coughing, sneezing and/or in contact with the faeces of people carrying the disease.

Your kids are most infectious during the first week of the illness, but the virus can be shed in their faeces for several weeks.
 

4. How is hand, foot & mouth disease treated?


As it is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease, but some of the symptoms can be helped by Paracetamol.

Talk to your doctor in more detail if you have any concerns.
 

5. How can you prevent spreading hand, foot & mouth disease?


The following will help prevent hand, foot and mouth disease from spreading:
 
  • Promote washing hands and other hygiene methods at home and at pre-school.
 
  • Keep unwell children at home from pre-school or having play dates with other children until they are well and no longer infectious.
 
  • Dispose of or wash soiled clothing or cloth nappies thoroughly.
 
  • Ensure each member of the family has their own towel and facecloth.
 

6. More information


Contact your family doctor for more information about hand, foot and mouth disease.

Also check out the advice from the Ministry of Health NZ.

More kids health articles to enjoy:

Image source: GladstoneObserver
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