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Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease

(Coxsackie Virus)

What is it?

Both hand, foot and mouth disease and herpangina are infections caused by the Coxsackie virus.

  • In Herpangina small red spots that become ulcers appear at the back of the mouth.
  • In hand, foot and mouth disease, the rash can appear as small red, blisters on the hands, feet, mouth or diaper area.
  • Both illnesses can be very painful and may cause your child to refuse food and water.
  • The spots and ulcers in both illnesses will go away on their own within 10 days.
  • Mostly affects young children, however, it can happen at any age.
  • Most common in the summer and fall.

Signs and symptoms?

  • a skin rash red spotted small blisters on top, that appears on the hands (palms) and feet (soles), buttocks and sometimes other places on the body.
  • fever
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of energy
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • small, painful ulcers in the mouth

How does it spread?

  • There is no vaccine against Coxsackie virus.
  • Most contagious during the first week of illness.
  • The incubation period for the virus is three to six days before child is sick.
  • Spreads through contact with an infected person’s saliva or stool.
  • Germs can get on a person’s hands or other objects and then spread into someone’s mouth, causing infection.
  • The virus can be found in a person’s stool for up to 4 weeks after the start of the illness.
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease is not spread from animals.

How to decrease the spread?

  • Handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of infection. Key times to wash include:
    • after wiping the child’s nose
    • after changing a diaper
    • after using the toilet
    • before preparing food
  • The virus can also survive on surfaces and objects, such as counters and toys, long enough to spread to another person- clean these surfaces on a regular basis.

Recommended Absence:

Only when the child is not well enough to participate or according to your policy.

Coxsackie virus is not reportable to the Medical Officer of Health.

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