Epidemiology Week 37, 2015

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) (Part 1)

Hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common, usually self-limiting viral illness. It occurs mainly in children under 5 years, but occasionally can occur in adults.
Symptoms/Natural History

The commonest symptoms of HFMD are fever, loss of appetite, sore throat, and malaise. These symptoms may be followed in a day or two by vesicular sores in the mouth which eventually become small, painful ulcers. A rash may then appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, followed by other parts of the body. The rash begins as red spots (macules) which may become vesicles or blisters. In adults there may be no symptoms, however, transmission of the virus to others can still occur.


Causative agents

The family of viruses that causes HFMD is called the Picornaviridae family and includes various types of cocksackie A viruses and enteroviruses. The most common pathogen is the cocksackie A 16 virus, which usually causes mild disease. Some enteroviruses are more likely to cause severe disease and complications.



Complications of HFMD are very rare and include meningitis and encephalitis.


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