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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.