What is Hand, Food, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)?
Hand, food, and mouth disease is a common illness typically affecting younger children under the age of 5. However, adults can also become infected. The disease causes fever, blisters and ulcers in the mouth, and a rash on the body.
What are symptoms of HFMD?
Some people may not show symptoms of HFMD but still spread the virus. Symptoms include:
- Reduced appetite
- Sores/ulcers in the mouth
- Rash/blisters on the hands, feet, knees, elbows, buttocks, and/or genital area
What are some risks of HFMD?
Severe risks are not common but may include:
- Fingernail or toenail loss
What causes HFMD?
HFMD is caused by a virus belonging to the Enterovirus genus.
How is HFMD transmitted?
The virus can be found in respiratory secretions, blister fluid, and feces. The virus can pass through:
- Contact with an infected person
- Air (through respiratory secretions)
- Contact with feces
- Contact with contaminated surfaces
- Rarely, it can be passed through water, such as a lake or pool
How is HFMD diagnosed?
Typically, a doctor will diagnose a patient based on their mouth blisters, age, and symptoms. Occasionally, a throat or feces sample will be necessary.
How is HFMD treated?
There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be given to children (not aspirin), and mouth numbing sprays can be used to relieve blisters. An IV may be required if a person is dehydrated and has trouble swallowing due to the blisters.
How can I prevent HFMD?
- Wash hands thoroughly and often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper
- Disinfect items that are used often, including toys
- Avoid close contact with a person infected with HFMD
For more information on HFMD, visit http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html.