XS Nuvali: Health Advisory – HFMD

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HEALTH ADVISORY: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a contagious disease characterized by blister-like rashes in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks and legs. It is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group).

Since it is contagious, infected children are best advised to stay at home to prevent the spread of the disease. HFMD mostly infects children younger than 10 years of age, but older children and adults can also get the disease.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms usually begin with fever, poor appetite, and malaise (feeling vaguely unwell). A sore throat usually accompanies the symptoms. A few days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth. A skin rash with flat or raised red spots can also develop, usually on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and sometimes on the buttocks. This rash may blister, but it will not itch.

Is HFMD serious?

HFMD is usually not serious. The illness is typically mild, and nearly all patients recover in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. Complications are uncommon. Rarely, an infected person can develop viral meningitis (characterized by fever, headache, stiff neck, or back pain) and may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Other rare complications can include polio-like paralysis or encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.

Is HFMD contagious?

Yes, HFMD is moderately contagious. The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in an infected person’s nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid, or feces (stool). HFMD spreads from an infected person to others through close personal contact, such as kissing or hugging, the air by coughing and sneezing, contact with feces, and touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them. People with HFMD are most contagious during the first week of their illness.

Can HFMD be Treated?

There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Fever and pain can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers/pain relievers, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. In addition, people with HFMD should drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).

How can we prevent HFMD?

There is no vaccine to protect against HFMD. The risk of getting the disease can be reduced by observing the following:

  1. Infected children should stay at home to prevent spread of the disease.
  2. Practice proper hand washing.
  3. Observe strict personal hygiene.
  4. Toys or teaching tools shared with other children should be washed and disinfected.
  5. Avoid sharing utensils used for drinking and eating, linens, towels and other personal items with the infected person.

Dra.  Anne Barraquio, MD
School Physician

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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