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Healthbeat 4: Understanding hand, foot and mouth disease

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) —  Kids are well into the school year and it is prime time for colds and flu.

It’s also peak season for another illness: hand, foot, and mouth disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HFMD is common among young children — typically under the age of five.

It causes fever, mouth sores and a rash.

The CDC says people with HFMD sometimes remain contagious for weeks after those symptoms go away.

While its name may sound scary, doctors say it’s very common.

“It is spread by oral secretions; coughing, sneezing repository type of secretions,” said Dr. Ashlesha Kaushik, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist, “It is also prevalent by stools. So it is also transmitted by diapers changes, sharing of utensils, sharing of toys. Anything with has drool or saliva over it.”

Dr. Ashlesha Kaushik is a pediatric infectious specialist at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s.

She says HFMD is a viral infection that typically affects children under 10.

Kids who attend daycare are an even bigger target.

“By sharing toys or if they drink out of a cup and another child also drinks out of the same cup like sharing utensils that’s one big thing,” said Dr. Ashlesha Kaushik.

Dr. Kaushik says symptoms include fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, feeling unwell, painful mouth sores and a rash.

“The fever usually last two to four days, the mouth sores usually they are painful, to begin with, and they usually last for a week,” said Dr. Ashlesha Kaushik, “And the rash on the hands and the feet usually take seven to ten days to completely disappear.”

So how do you avoid getting it?

Doctors say handwashing is your best bet.

“There’s no vaccine to prevent this virus so good handwashing and just maintaining good cough etiquette,” said Dr. Kaushik.

Dr. Kaushik says hand, foot and mouth symptoms usually last about a week – and a child should stay home during that time.

Although hand, foot and mouth symptoms typically last about a week, children can be contagious even after those symptoms wear off.

So parents beware, adults can get it too!

Michelle Schoening

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