Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hand foor and mouth disease

There I was as usual last week browsing through my medical journals and webpages when I came across a lovely picture of a virus - it's the one illustrated. It shows the actual structure of the EV71 virus that is responsible for outbreaks of Hand Foot and Mouth -HF & M - disease. This is a virus from the family known as Entero-viruses, and other viruses included in this group are the better known viruses of Polio viruses, ECHO viruses and Coxsachie viruses.

Well a few days later my son informed me that our youngest grandson has been unwell for a few days and he thought it could be HF &M virus! What a coincidence I thought:  and so here are a few facts about it.

Hand foot and mouth is very contagious and very common in the under 5 age group.

It has nothing at all to do with the Foot and Mouth virus that ravages cattle and which crops up in the world news every few years: that is a completely different virus and it doesn't occur in humans, just as "our" HF & M virus doesn't appear in cattle.

It can be very, very painful to the point where just swallowing saliva is impossible. Some infants need to go on IV as they refuse to have any fluids in their mouths and even dribble out all their saliva.

The classical findings are of a fever which is followed after a few days with small blister lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also occur in other areas, but hands and feet are most common. The mouth is affected too with these blister lesions, and when they burst the raw surface produces a shallow ulcer that is very painful but heals well without any long term consequence.

Complications are rare but can include meningitis and encephalitis.

If your child has HF & M then keep them home from Kindy or pre-school to break the cycle of transmission.

In most cases all you need to do is give fluids and simple pain-killers until the rash disappears.
Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.


Anonymous said...

I had never heard of such a thing. Is this a relatively new virus?

Bossy Mummy said...

I remember having it as an8 yr old- it was not pleasant. My toddler had it his second week of daycare. He was the sickest he has ever been. He actually gave up his dummy from that night forth - the pain from the blisters in his mouth must have been so great!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dr J. Wish I would've had this info a couple of weeks ago!

Mariodacatsmom said...

I guess I've heard of it, but never knew what it was and haven't heard of any outbreaks in our area - ever. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.