Dealing with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

What's Going Around week of Sept 19, 2016

By Cleveland Clinic News Service, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many people have heard of hand, foot and mouth disease, but most don’t give it much of a thought until it makes an appearance in their home.

Highly contagious

According to Dr. Sara Lappe of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, this common and highly contagious illness typically affects children under the age of ten.

“Just like most viruses, it’s pretty contagious,” said Dr. Lappe. “So it’s one of those ones in a daycare setting can spread very quickly and in school setting, amongst families - if they haven’t had it, will often spread amongst the whole family.”

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a number of different viruses.
Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose

Within a day or two after the initial symptoms appear, a blister-like rash forms on the hands, feet or mouth.

Dr. Lappe said parents will often bring their kids to the doctor because they are not eating, only to learn that the lack of appetite is being caused by mouth sores from the virus.

The illness is spread through direct contact with nose, or throat fluids of an infected person or through contact with infected stool.

People with the illness are usually most contagious in the first week, but can remain contagious for weeks after symptoms go away.

Treating symptoms

There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease, however there are things folks can do to make the symptoms, which can last about a week, more tolerable.

Dr. Lappe said it’s best to avoid foods and drinks that are too acidic, that can irritate mouth sores.

“Avoiding orange juice, pineapple juice, those kind of things and stick with more mild foods,” said Dr. Lappe. “Cold things may feel a little bit better – sucking on a popsicle, those kind of things. You can also use over-the-counter pain medications as well.”

Dr. Lappe said it’s important to practice good hand hygiene and to keep children at home if they are sick with hand, foot, and mouth to prevent the spread of the illness.

What's Going Around

In Duval County, allergies remains the main problem. Five people of the Westside have reported pneumonia. Flu and sinus infections have also kept doctors busy.

In Clay County at the Care Spot in Middleburg, the staff says pink eye is still an issue. The center has also seen several cases of stomach bugs, sinus infections and strep throat.

In St. Johns County at the Healing Arts Urgent Care in St. Augustine, several people have been suffering from pharyngitis - possibly from strep throat. A number of rashes and skin infections have been reported.
In Nassau County at the Care Spot in Yulee, they are reporting strep throat, bronchitis, and sinusitis.

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