As we enter the summer season, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFM) is hitting the United States hard. Outbreaks in the United States historically occur during the summer and autumn months. While the disease normally is found in children under five years of age and infants, it can occur in adults and recently has been doing so in staggering numbers. The disease is most recognized by its fever, mouth sores and skin rashes.
As we enter the summer season, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is hitting the United States hard. Outbreaks in the United States historically occur during the summer and autumn months, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Already this year though media across the nation are running reports of outbreaks.
While the disease normally is found in children under five years of age and infants, it can occur in adults and recently has been doing so in staggering numbers. The disease is most recognized by its fever, mouth sores and skin rashes.
* Poor appetite
* Generally not feeling well
* Sore throat
* Painful sores in mouth
* Skin rash
The sores are generally located in the back of the mouth. They are actually more akin to blisters and often result in ulcers. They normally exhibit a day or two after the fever starts. The skin rash may or may not include blisters. While it normally appears on the hands and bottoms of the feet, it can also appear on the knees, elbows, butt or genital area. An infected person may not actually exhibit all the signs. They may, for example, only have the mouth sores.
How is HFMD spread?
This highly contagious disease is spread by direct contact. If an infected person touches an object - like a banister or the elevator buttons - then the person touching it afterwards could become infected. It is, according to the CDC, “spread through saliva, respiratory secretions, fluid in vesicles, and feces.”
Most people recover without any complications. However, like any disease, some will experience complications leading to hospitalization and even death in some severe cases.
It can NOT spread from animal to human, according to both the CDC and the National Institute of Health (NIH). An infected person is most contagious, according to the NIH, during their own first week of having the disease.
- Viral meningitis
Complications are rare. Viral meningitis may exhibit in a fever, stiff neck and back aches. Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain.
Prevention & Treatment
While scientists are working on developing a vaccine, there currently is none. The best way to prevent HFMD – or any communicable disease – is proper hygiene. Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap and water. Water alone will not clean the germs. Disinfect dirty surfaces. Avoid close contact – hugs, kisses, etc. – with infected persons. Combat possible dehydration with making sure you drink plenty of fluids.
There is no specific treatment for HFM. Instead you must treat the symptoms. Over the counter pain relievers will help bring down the fever and reduce the pain. Mouthwashes may help with the sores and ulcers in the mouth.
At present the CDC does have a travel advisory posted for traveling to or in Vietnam. In April, the Vietnam Ministry of Health confirmed nearly 40,000 cases of HFMD just since the beginning of the year (2012), according to the CDC.
This article is not intended to take the place of the medical advice from a professional. If you are experiencing the above symptoms or have come in contact with an infected person, contact your family doctor.
Image Source: NIH
ABOUT JEANNE RUCZHAK-ECKMAN
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and SolancoNews.com. The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from LockHavenUniversity, and was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. Her interests include learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, history/travel, gaming and Orthodoxy. You may contact Jeanne with your comments.