The West Central Health District, located in Columbus, is warning parents of reports of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in our area in a public notice Monday.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, also known as HFMD, is a common viral illness that affects people of all ages, but children younger than 5 years old and infants are particularly vulnerable.
“The illness is typically mild, and nearly all people recover in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. HFMD is caused by several different viruses and it’s possible that people can get the disease again. In rare cases, further complications can occur,” the public notice said.
- Reduced appetite
- Sore throat
- A feeling of being unwell
- Painful sores in the mouth that usually begin as flat red spots
- A rash of flat red spots that may blister on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and sometimes the knees, elbows, buttocks, and/or genital area.
Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores. If your child has painful mouth sores avoid acidic or spicy foods which may cause further pain.
Hand-foot-mouth disease can be spread if:
- A person with the infection sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose near you.
- You have close contact with an infected person, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils.
- You touch your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus, such as a toy or doorknob.
- You touch stools (for example when changing a diaper) or fluid from the blisters of an infected person.
There is no vaccine or medication to protect against HFMD. However, you can reduce the risk of getting infected with the viruses by following a few simple steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet, and help young children do the same. Visit CDC’s “Clean Hands Save Lives!” online for more information.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contacts, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD or similar symptoms
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
“People with HFMD are most contagious during the first week of their illness. However, they may sometimes remain contagious for weeks after symptoms go away. Some people, especially adults, may not develop any symptoms, but they can still spread the viruses to others.
This is why you should always maintain good hygiene, like washing hands often with soap and water and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. These actions will minimize your chance of getting and spreading infections. If you or your child has HFMD or similar symptoms you should try to refrain from attending work, school or any large congregate settings.
For more information about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease visit online cdc.gov or call Public Health at (706)-321-6260.
The West Central Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health serves 15 counties in west central Georgia.