Epidemiology Week 38, 2015

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) (Part 2)

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.

The viruses that cause HFMD are transmitted by direct contact with the fluids from the blisters, respiratory secretions and stool of an affected person.

The virus may also be transmitted by touching hard surfaces contaminated with the bodily secretions named above.



The diagnosis is usually made clinically, however, in severe cases a respiratory or stool sample may be taken for laboratory isolation of the virus.



There is no specific treatment for HFMD, however, over the counter medications can help with the symptoms; for example: paracetamol for the fever.

It is also important that a person, especially a child or an elderly person, with HFMD continue to drink plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration. This may be difficult as the mouth sores may make eating and drinking painful.



There is no vaccine to prevent HFMD. The mainstay of prevention is proper hygiene, especially frequent hand-washing. It is also advised that well individuals avoid contact with the body fluids of persons who are ill.


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