Primer on Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

November 07, 2017
Maria Nenita L Salcedo, MD, FPPS

This primer is being issued to increase awareness and prevent the spread of the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in our community. According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a common viral illness caused by Enterovirus virus that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old.  However, it can sometimes occur in adolescents and adults.  Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease, a disease of cattle, sheep and swine.  However, the two diseases are caused by different viruses and are not related.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease usually starts with a fever, poor appetite, malaise, sore throat and painful sores that develop in the mouth.  A skin rash develops over 1-2 days.  The rash appears as flat or raised spots, sometimes with blisters, usually on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  It may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area. Persons infected with the virus may not get all the symptoms of the disease. 
The HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with the infectious viruses that cause this disease.  The viruses are found in the nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum or nasal mucus), fluid in blisters and stool of infected persons.  It may spread when infected persons touch objects and surfaces that are touched by others.  Infected persons are most contagious during the first week of the illness.  As such, if your son has manifestations of HFMD, please refrain from sending him to school. It would be best if medical consult is sought.  Anyone at the AJHS with HFMD should be reported to and cleared by the AJHS Health Services before going back to class.

A person can lower their risk of being infected by doing the following:
·         Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after using the toilet.
·         Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items.  First wash the items with soap and water; then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach (4 cups of water: 1 tablespoon of bleach).
·         Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.
·         One should have a healthy diet, regular exercise and enough sleep and rest to increase one’s resistance to the disease.
There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.  There is no specific treatment for HFMD.  However, some things can be done to relieve symptoms, such as taking medications to relieve pain and fever and using antiseptic mouthwashes or spray that numb mouth pain.

Thank you very much for your attention and cooperation.

Prepared by :
Maria Nenita L. Salcedo, MD, FPPS
Health Services
Ateneo Junior High School