Hand foot and mouth disease is a viral disease caused usually by the coxsakievirus A 16 and the enterovirus 71 (EV71). Coxsakievirus belongs to the picornaviridae family. Other than the above mentioned strains of coxsakievirus and enterovirus other strains of these viruses may also lead to hand foot and mouth disease.
The most common source of infection is through direct contact with different body secretions and fluids of the infected person.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is common in kindergarten and day care centers as there is repeated diaper change and potty training. Also the risk in small children is increased as they frequently put their hands in mouth.
The infectivity of the affected child is the highest during first week of infection although the child may remain infectious as the virus may be present in her body for weeks.
Adults are also sometimes responsible for transmitting the disease.
In the US usually outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease typically occur during summer and autumn seasons however in the tropical countries the disease can occur any time.
Hand, foot and mouth disease usually occurs in children; especially those below 10 years of age.
Sometimes adolescents and adults may also suffer from the symptosm of hand, foot and mouth disease.
As such no specific treatment is available for hand foot mouth disease, symptomatic treatment is quite helpful in managing the bothersome symptoms. Usually the symptoms are cleared within 7 to 10 days.
1. Acetaminophen is prescribed for fever and painkillers like ibuprofen etc (not aspirin) are advised to reduce pain.
2. Sometimes in severe cases topical oral anesthetic gels are advised to relieve the discomfort associated with the oral lesions.
3. Frequent sucking of ice pops or ice chips, eating ice cream, cold beverages like milk, ice water, fruit juices especially citrus fruits are
4. Avoid salty or spicy foods, eating soft solid food which require less chewing and washing of mouth with warm water.
5. If the child is too small to rinse his or her oral cavity without drinking water swishing with warm salt water is quite helpful, as it helps to sooth the oral irritation to some extent.
There are certain common and simple preventive measures are available which lower the risk of transmission of HFMD to greater extent. Preventive measures include
1. Repeated and thorough hand washing is recommended especially after changing diapers of the baby, using toilet, before making foods or eating.
2. Common areas as toys in child care settings are thoroughly washed as there viruses can remain active in these things.
3. Informing and educating children about good hygiene.
4. Contagious people should be isolated. Usually affected children should not be sent to the day care center until fever is completely gone and oral lesions are healed. Like children affected adults should also take leave from the work.