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Hand, foot, and mouth disease tips
A number of cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease have been reported. Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville offers this advice.
When most people think of hand, foot, and mouth disease, they think of how it might affect their child. While this common viral illness usually affects children younger than 5 years of age, it also has the potential to be contracted by adults. The disease is caused by viruses within the Enterovirus group, including Coxsackievirus A16 (most commonly determined to be the cause in the United States) and Enterovirus 71 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
These viruses can be transmitted fairly easily between people and are most commonly found in an infected person’s nose and throat secretions, blister fluid, and feces. They spread from person to person through close contact, the air, contact with feces, or contact with a contaminated surface. Swallowing recreational water (such as the water in your local swimming pool) even has a slight chance of transmitting the virus.
A person infected with the disease is most contagious during the first week, but may remain contagious for days, or even weeks, after symptoms disappear. So, what should you look for if you think you may have been exposed to the virus?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease initially appears as a fever, often with poor appetite, a vague feeling of being unwell, and a sore throat. One to two days after fever commences, painful sores appear, usually in the mouth. Originally appearing as small red spots, they will often blister and become ulcers. One might also develop a skin rash over one to two days, with flat or raised red spots that sometimes blister. Typically this rash is seen on the palms of one’s hands or soles of the feet. However, the rash may also appear on one’s knees, elbows, buttocks, or the genital area. It is important to note that not all people who become infected with these viruses will exhibit all of these symptoms. Some people -- especially adults -- do not exhibit any symptoms, but still may be contagious.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is easily transmitted and highly contagious, but there are steps one can take to minimize exposure:
•Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the restroom or changing diapers.
•Clean and disinfect. Frequently touched surfaces and soiled items create a greater risk of transmitting the viruses.
•Avoid close contact. Avoid kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with those who show symptoms of the disease.
•Stay home while showing symptoms. Talk to your health-care provider if you are unsure as to when you should return to work or school.
While it might be painful to swallow while infected, the liberal intake of fluids is very important, to ward off dehydration.
If you believe you or a loved one might be infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease, contact your health-care provider. They can usually tell the difference between mouth sores caused by the disease and those from other causes.
Source: “About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 May 2013. Web. 12 June 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html.
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