Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
A unique strain of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), called coxsackie virus 6 (CAV6), is currently circulating in California. HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. HFMD may be caused by one of several related viruses. Outbreaks of HFMD are common in summer and early autumn.
- Fever, rash, sores, poor appetite, a vague feeling of illness and sore throat.
- Painful sores in the mouth that may blister and become ulcers.
- Skin rash, flat or raised red spots, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet developing over 1 to 2 days. CAV6 rash may also appear on arms, legs, and trunk.
- Shedding of fingernails may occur 1 – 2 months after the initial illness.
- Though the rash seen with this unique type of HFMD can be more extensive with larger blisters, symptoms are generally mild and resolve in 7 to 10 days. In rare cases, HFMD can cause complications.
- Person-to-person: Direct contact with saliva, sputum, nasal mucus from the infected person's nose and throat or with fluid in blisters, or with feces.
- Surface-to-person: Touching objects and surfaces touched by infected persons.
- Infected persons are most contagious during the first week of the illness, but can still pass the virus for weeks after symptoms have gone away.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals, and is not the same as "foot and mouth disease".
Caring for someone with HFMD:
- There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Most people recover on their own in 7 to 10 days.
- Taking over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever can help (Caution: Asprin should not be given to children.)
- Using mouthwashes and sprays can help numb the pain of sores in the mouth.
- Although drinking may be painful, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Persons concerned about their symptoms should contact their doctor, especially if experiencing a high fever, headache, stiff neck or back pain.
Recommendations to prevent the spread of HFMD:
- There is no vaccine for this virus.
- Thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Wash hands with soap and water carefully and frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, after changing diapers, touching nasal secretions, and before preparing foods or beverages.
- Disinfect surfaces and items, including toys. First wash the items with soap and water; then disinfect them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach and 4 cups of water.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected people.
- Dispose of used tissues.
- Exclude sick children from school or daycare until 1) They have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications; 2) Their lesions are healed or scabbed and not draining or oozing. If large blisters are present, the child should be excluded until risk of rupture has passed.
Several Asian countries are currently experiencing epidemics of severe HFMD caused by enterovirus-71 (EV-71). This is not the same strain that is currently circulating in California.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Fact Sheet
California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)