Hand foot and mouth disease or HFMD usually affects people in the rainy season. There are two strains in Thailand. Coxsackievirus is the most common one and is easy to recover from. However, Enterovirus 71 is not common but can cause severe illness and complications.
Who gets affected by HFMD?
This disease can affect people of any age. Children younger than 5 years are most prone to this disease as their immune system is weaker than adults and older children. Hence, the symptoms for young children will also be more severe. It can be spread through body fluid such as from the nose or saliva from the throat, and fluid from blisters. It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated objects, hands of the infected child’s parents or caretakers, or through contaminated food. The infection usually spreads at nurseries and kindergartens as there are more young children there.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
People normally get mild or high fever for a few days and lesions in their mouths. Young kids could have saliva flowing from their mouths and have trouble drinking milk due to the pain. They could also cry if rubber nipples hurt the lesions in their mouth. Old children may put fingers inside their mouth to relieve irritation. People could develop blisters on their palms and soles, or other parts of the body like elbows, knees, and bottoms. They could develop rashes as well.
This disease can cause serious complications like a heart infection which can lead to heart failure and pulmonary edema. Even if the person just has a few bumps on their body, it can still affect their heart. The symptoms for such a complication are usually coughing uncontrollably, exhaustion, being inactive and loss of appetite.
Another serious complication is the inflammation of the brain. Although brain-stem encephalitis is rare, it is very serious and could kill children. If your child has a fever higher than 39 degrees Celsius for longer than 48 hours, are inactive and have a loss of appetite, have a stiff neck, lose balance while walking, shaking hands, or are dropping things easily, then you should rush them to the hospital.
How to cure HFMD?
Doctors just treat the symptoms as there is no particular cure to this disease. For example, the doctor would give saline solution if the patients are not able to eat anything. Lesions usually remain for five to seven days and they could hurt the first few days. While recovering, they can start drinking milk or eating and having a lot of water is essential. Patients should also rest a lot and cold food can help relieve pain in the mouth.
You can easily prevent HFMD and protect yourself from it:
Hygiene is extremely important so people should only eat newly cooked food, use spoons, wash their hands often, and not share dishes with other people
If adults are infected, they should take a sick leave to avoid infecting others. It is also good to avoid public places until you have fully recovered.
Sterilizing objects and toys and other things children frequently use is extremely important. If any area is suspected of contamination, people shouldn’t go there for a week.