The Hand Foot and Mouth disease is a common disease that usually affects children between one month and ten years of age. The number of cases of the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) in India has increased in the past few years and has reached more than 1 million cases a year.
This disease is caused by a virus from a genus called Enterovirus, which is commonly known as ‘coxsackievirus’. The typical signs and symptoms of this disease include:
- Sore throat
- Rashes on skin surface (especially on palms and soles)
- Sores/ulcers in the mouth
- Loss of appetite
Fever is usually one of the first signs a child shows when he or she is infected. This is normally followed by a sore throat and then the loss of appetite. A few days after the onset of these symptoms is when the rashes and mouth sores or ulcers begin to appear. The infection lasts for 1 week at least.
This infection is contagious and can spread very easily. Therefore, it is best if the infected child stays at home and doesn’t come in contact with other children. It can also be spread if a child touches any surface that has been contaminated with feces that has the virus.
This disease can cause a few complications, the most common being dehydration. The infected child is prone to getting dehydrated since the infection can make it very painful and difficult for the child to swallow. A more virulent strain of the coxsackievirus affects the brain as well, causing either viral meningitis, where there is an infection and inflammation in the meninges and the cerebrospinal fluid, or encephalitis, which is the swelling of the brain.
There are some simple ways that can be used for preventing the disease from spreading.
- Isolating the patient is a simple way to prevent further spreading of the disease. As the disease can spread by contact.
- It is very important to wash your hands carefully with adequate soap and water, especially after using the toilet or before eating a meal. Germ killing alcohol in the form of hand wipes or hand sanitizers can be used to clean your hands as well.
- It is also important to keep your home clean and hygienic. Using household disinfectants such as bleach, to clean commonly used areas or areas that are prone to getting dirty easily, will help kill any germs and bacteria in your home, making it a safe and hygienic place for you and your children.
As this is a disease not commonly known but growing, it is important that parents are aware of the infections that their child can catch.