Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Syndrome (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) facts
- What is hand, foot, and mouth (HFMD) disease?
- What causes hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- What are the risk factors for hand, foot and mouth disease?
- Is hand, foot, and mouth disease contagious? How does HFMD spread?
- How long is hand, foot, and mouth disease contagious?
- Can adults get hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- What are the symptoms and signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- What is the incubation period for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- When does hand, foot, and mouth disease usually occur?
- What is the course of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- Why haven't we heard more about hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- How do doctors diagnose hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- What is the treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- What are complications of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- How does hand, foot, and mouth disease affect pregnancy and the baby?
- When can children with hand, foot, and mouth disease return to school?
- What is the prognosis of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- Is it possible to prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease?
- Childhood Illnesses You Should Know Slideshow
- Symptoms of Infant & Childhood Illnesses Slideshow
- Enterovirus D68 Slideshow
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
Why haven't we heard more about hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Recognition of hand, foot, and mouth disease is relatively recent (when contrasted with mumps, measles, and chickenpox, for example). HFMD was first reported in 1956 in Australia. By the early 1960s, it had emerged as a common childhood illness around the world.
How do doctors diagnose hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Usually, the diagnosis of HFMD is made on a combination of clinical history and characteristic physical findings. Laboratory confirmation is rarely necessary unless severe complications develop.
What is the treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Therapy for HFMD is directed toward symptomatic relief of fever and sore throat. Antibiotics are not indicated for this viral disease.
What are complications of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Complications of HFMD are relatively rare. The more common cause of HFMD (Coxsackievirus A16) is less likely to cause complications when compared with enterovirus-71.
Complications include the following:
- "Aseptic" (also called "viral") meningitis (rare): Symptoms of meningitis are moderate-severe headache, discomfort when bending the head forward (classically tested by trying to touch the chin to the chest), and nausea and vomiting. Meningitis is an infection of the tissues and spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. The diagnosis is confirmed by a lumbar puncture (also known as a "spinal tap"). Depending upon severity of the patient's symptoms, they may need to be hospitalized.
- Encephalitis (brain infection): Encephalitis is much less common but more ominous when compared with meningitis and requires hospitalization for close monitoring.
- Occasionally, the virus may infect the heart muscle fibers and thus compromise the heart's blood-pumping capabilities.
- Young infants may very rarely become dehydrated due to refusal to take oral fluids as a consequence of mouth pain.
- In very rare circumstances, the skin vesicles may develop a secondary bacterial infection. A short course of antibiotics are used to treat the secondary infection.
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