Cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Are On the Rise As Back to School Season Approaches

Kids are always giving and receiving…all sorts of viruses that is—colds, flus, stomach bugs, you name it. It’s no surprise that little ones don’t always have the best hand-washing skills or know how to cover their mouths when they cough, so germs spread more rapidly than they do older people.

Case in point: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. This viral infection is prevalent in children under five (though adults can get it too) and is characterized by blisters and sores in the mouth and a rash or sores on the hands and feet. People with the disease may also experience fever, sore throat, irritability, and loss of appetite.

It’s a pretty contagious disease, so it can spread quickly. The most common time of year for the disease is summer and fall—which is probably why we’re seeing many outbreaks and rises of the disease already. It’s been in several states, including Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and is easily spread.

“It’s picked up easily in day care centers, especially,” says Dr. Trachella Johnson Foy, a family physician for Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Florida. “Of course, with us getting back to school—the elementary school children are going to be at a high risk.”

It’s only natural for parents to be a little worried about sending kids back to school with rates so high, and children being, well, children.

Plus, besides kids, even adults are contracting the disease. In fact, two Major League Baseball players recently contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: New York Met pitcher Noah Syndergaard and New York Yankees starter J.A. Happ.

The good news is, the disease looks a lot worse than it is; it’s a minor illness that generally runs its course between three and six days, so even if you and/or the kids get it, at least you know you you’ll only be laid up for less than a week. Definitely be sure to contact your doctor if you’re not showing signs of being on the mend by then.

How to treat Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Unfortunately, there’s no one cure-all pill you can take to treat Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease—it’s purely a matter of practicing proper hygiene and maybe some medicine to counteract the internal symptoms.

“The way that it’s managed, there’s no particular magic medicine or drug. It’s just about hydration, pain medicines, whether that’s an acetaminophen or ibuprofen, talking with your pediatrician about that, as well and a lot of TLC, washing your hands in between that TLC,” says Dr. Elizabeth Mack, an associate professor of pediatric critical care at the Medical University of South Carolina.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t take steps to take precaution in preventing the disease from spreading even further. Be sure your child knows to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, wash their hands often (especially after going to the bathroom), and to not share drinks or food with their friends. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is spread through saliva, nasal secretions, blister fluid, and stool.

To learn what else to look out for and how to keep healthy when it comes to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, check out the video below.

Do you know anyone whose ever gotten Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease before? What are you going to do to prevent the spread of this disease this upcoming school year?