Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease: Symptoms and Cause

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, as the name suggest, is characterized by sores in mouth and rashes on the hands (mainly palms) and foot (soles). It is a mild and contagious disease, common among children and is a viral disease. The causative agent is strain of coxsackie virus. Link most viral diseases, hand-foot-and-mouth disease do not have specific treatment and management is mainly symptomatic. Teach your child the basic hygiene and ways to keep clean to prevent the disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

The symptoms may include all or only some of the symptoms mentioned below,

  • Sore in the mouth (red blister like lesion in tongue, gums and inner side of checks, which are painful) and rash (usually red rash with or without blistering in soles and palms and sometimes in buttocks too) in palms of hands and soles of feet; however, these rashes do not cause itching. This are the typical symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. In fact diagnosis is mainly based on these symptoms
  • Sore throat and fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise
  • Infants and children become irritable

The incubation period is commonly three to six days and may start with fever, which may be followed in a day or two, by sore throat and appearance of rash in soles and palms and sores in mouth, loss of appetite etc.

Causes of hand-foot-and-mouth disease:

The most common causative agent for hand-foot-and-mouth disease is coxsackie virus A16 (this belong to non-polio enteroviruses). Other type of enteroviruses may also sometime cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease, less commonly/rarely.

  • Mode of spread is usually oral ingestion of the virus. It is spread by person-to-person contact (via throat discharge, nasal secretions, saliva, stool, virus in the blister fluid and respiratory particles that are sprayed after sneezing or coughing).

The affected child remain contagious for several weeks after the disease. However, the patient is most contagious in the first week of illness. The virus may also be spread by otherwise healthy individuals (mainly adults) with infection but have no symptoms of the disease.

Special note:

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is different from foot-and-mouth disease that occur among farm animals. You cannot get the foot-and-mouth disease from farm animals and farm animals also do not get hand-foot-and-mouth disease from humans. Hence, nothing to worry about this problem.


Image courtesy of [paisan191] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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