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Cocoon Understands - Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease(HFMD)

Questions Answered...


Hand, Food and Mouth Disease and what causes it?

HFMD is caused by a group of viruses which usually affects young children.  It causes blisters on hands and feet, mouth ulcers inside the cheeks and on the tongue and may also accompany a sore throat and high temperature.  Symptoms last for 7-10 days.

Is HFMD serious?

Usually not. The fever and spots usually clear within a few days. The mouth ulcers can be painful, and may last up to a week. The sore mouth may make a child miserable for a few days.  Complete recovery is the rule.

Is it the same foot and mouth disease in cows?

No.  A completely different virus caused foot and mouth disease in cows

How is it spread?

The virus is spread by coughs and sneezes and is also found in the faeces of infected children.  Some children infected with the virus do not have symptoms but can still pass it to others.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease – it is usually a mild and self-limiting illness.  If a child feels unwell paracetamol such as Calpol or Disprol may help with the symptoms.  Antibiotics and creams or ointments for the blisters are not effective.  Children recover just as quickly without them.

What is the incubation period?

Symptoms start 3-5 days after exposure to the virus.

How long are children infectious?

Children who are ill are infectious.  They can carry the virus in their faeces for many weeks after they have recovered and so may continue to pass it on.

How long should children stay away from creche/preschool?

Children who are unwell should be kept off school until they are feeling better.  Keeping children off school for longer than this is unlikely to stop the virus spreading.  There may be other children in the school who appear well but are spreading the virus.

How can spread be prevented?

Since the virus is found in faeces, scrupulous attention must always be paid to hand washing after using the toilet.

Can you catch it more than once?

Yes, but children who are ill during an outbreak at school or nursery are unlikely to get it again during the same outbreak. 
Thank you for giving this your attention.  Your family doctor will be able to answer any further questions that you might have about hand foot and mouth disease.

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