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Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a common viral illness of infants and children.  It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters.  HFMD begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, feeling sick, and frequently a sore throat.  One or 2 days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth.  They begin as small red spots that blister.  They are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks.  The skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters.  The rash does not itch, and is located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  This is moderately contagious.  Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.  A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness.  The usual period from exposure to onset of symptoms is 3-7 days. 

There is no specific treatment available for this virus.  Children may return to school when they have been fever free for 24 hours and the blisters have dried.   

If an outbreak occurs:

  • Make sure that all children and adults use good handwashing techniques.
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect contaminated items and surfaces
  • Provide bed rest, fluids, salt water gargles, and popsicles