Measles and chicken pox are common childhood ailments that most parents are familiar with – the red spots usually give it away. However, there’s a new childhood virus making waves across the country, and it’s much harder to treat.
Doctors are now warning parents to be on the lookout for a potentially unstoppable summer outbreak of HFMD.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) sounds like something that only farmyard animals like cows or pigs are afflicted with. However, this very human disease is quickly making the rounds in Georgia, and it could be coming to a playground near you.
Now is the perfect time to learn how to spot, treat and avoid this terrible virus! Read on to find out what you need to know about HFMD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, HFMD is not very common in the USA, at least not compared to its more popular viral cousins like the cold and flu.
This relatively unknown virus only affects 200,000 people on an annual basis, but that’s about to change! A recent outbreak in Georgia could quickly spread to the rest of the country.
So, what exactly is HFMD? Well, it’s a viral infection, but it’s much worse than your average cold or flu. It’s highly contagious and spreads quite easily, but it’s the painful red blisters that make this virus a nightmare to deal with!
Your child can get infected if he or she comes in contact with the blister fluid, unwashed hands, poop, saliva, and the nose snot of another infected child. Basically, these are things that normal youngsters pick at and touch on a daily basis.
Children that spend lots of time in close quarters, such as in a daycare setting or school classroom, are highly susceptible to getting the disease.
This nasty virus tends to leave painful blisters in the mouths and throats of its victims. The blisters can also appear on other parts of the body, including the hands and soles of the feet. Hence, the name!
However, mouth sores aren’t the end of the story! Other HFMD symptoms can include:
– Fevers and muscle aches
– Itchy rashes
– Drooling, dehydration, and reduced appetite due to painful swallowing
– Sleeping more than usual
If you notice a few unexplained red blisters on your child, take them to the doctor right away! Although HFMD is usually not fatal, it can lead to serious side effects in those with weakened immune systems.
Since HFMD is easily spread through physical contact, the most effective way to prevent an infection is by practicing good hygiene! Regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds should be reinforced as an everyday habit.
Kids love to touch their eyes, nose and mouths with dirty fingers that have been who knows where, but that bad habit is a big no-no!
Children should always wash their hands before they eat food, even if it’s not finger food and they use a fork. They should also be taught to use hot soap and water after every trip to the potty, even if they don’t actually “go.”
Sharing cups and utensils should also be avoided, and don’t forget that doorknobs are breeding grounds for germs, too.
While it’s hard to tell your kids not to give out lots of hugs and kisses, this is another way that the virus can spread.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or cure for HFMD. You just have to let it run its course, and make sure your child is comfortable in the interim. The contagious period usually subsides after the first week.
Yikes, what a scary disease! Were you even aware that it existed?