Kids are like magnets to every bug, flu and virus that gets around- at least that’s what it seems like sometimes. But this year, a lesser known illness is unexpectedly on the rise and it’s catching parents by surprise. It’s called hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
While Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease is primarily found in Asia, in 2012, the State of Alabama released a warning that the virus was becoming more numerous in the area. Many speculate the virus was carried to the USA by travellers to various Asian countries who hadn’t realized they’d contracted it.
What is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?
Caused by what’s known as an enterovirus, hand-foot-and-mouth disease (or HFMD for short) is very contagious and is spread through coughs, sneezes, and kisses. In other words, any contact with spit or mucus from an infected person. Most symptoms don’t surface for a few days, so it’s easy for people to accidentally spread it to others before they realize they’ve caught the virus.
HFMD is most common among children, however, adults can get it too!
- sore throat
- low-grade fever
- sores appearing on hands, feet, mouth, and sometimes legs and bottom
Treating Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
First of all, keep your child (or yourself) at home so the virus isn’t spread to more people. HFMD, being a viral and not bacterial infection, will not be treated with antibiotics, and will have to ‘run its course’: usually about a week.
The best thing to do is to ease discomfort by addressing the individual symptoms.
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid acidic foods (like orange juice), which can irritate sores around the mouth
- Take raw honey for a sore throat. Try this DIY cough drop recipe.
- Treat pain with natural ingredients such as turmeric or other natural painkillers
- Wash hands often and change sheets regularly
HFMD can be a more serious threat for people with compromised immune systems, so they should be watched more carefully. If the symptoms don’t disappear on their own, or if you notice high fever, stiff neck, back pain, or loss of fingernails and toenails, talk to your health practitioner about next steps.