Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is one of the most common infectious diseases in Hong Kong and its outbreak usually occurs in nurseries and kindergartens. Specific vaccine or medication for viruses causing HFMD is not available, thus for both adults and children, everyone should be careful to avoid contracting related viruses.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common viral infection in infants and children. Enteroviruses are the usual “culprits”, for example, coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) and enterovirus 71 (EV71). Dominant symptoms of initial infection include fever, tiredness, poor appetite and sore throat.
In one or two days after initial symptom onset, there will be rashes, blisters and even ulcers appearing on the patient’s tongue, gum and inside his/her mouth, which can be so painful that swallowing and eating are affected. Spots and blisters will also appear on the patient’s palms and soles, which are seldom itchy.
In most cases of HFMD infection, symptoms are relatively mild and a child can recover after one week with symptomatic treatment, including fever-lowering medications and painkillers. However, a small number of patients may suffer from more serious complications such as encephalitis, myocarditis, acute flaccid paralysis, and meningitis.
An affected child may spread viruses through vomitus, saliva and stool. Therefore, everyone should be cautious in personal hygiene during high-risk period, usually in summer. Washing hands frequently and disinfecting environment are very important and effective ways to reduce spread of HFMD infection.