Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease symptoms; 'Miserable virus' spreads in MI

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 17:34:56-04

After New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard was sidelined because of a common illness often found among children, parents are being warned that they too can pick up this contagious infection from their children.    

What exactly is Hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

It’s a miserable virus that often spreads during summertime. Right now it’s on the rise in communities across the country, and we’re seeing it here in Michigan as well. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease lives in the intestines and is often caused by coxsackievirus A16. The disease can be found where large groups of children gather like playgrounds, daycares and schools. Since it mostly affects children under the age of 5 who don’t yet have immunity to Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, many parents tend to think of this virus only as a child’s illness.  

Why are parents getting this virus if supposedly we’ve built up our immunity towards it?

I’m sure a lot of parents are surprised when they are diagnosed because your body does develop immunity protection. But only to the specific virus that caused the infection. And unfortunately Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is actually caused by several different viruses so you can end up getting the disease again. Symptoms to look out for include a fever, sore throat, loss of appetite, painful red spots or bumps all over the body, and red blisters inside your mouth on the tongue, gums and cheeks. Most cases of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease are minor but serious complications can happen like Viral meningitis and Encephalitis. So if you don’t get better after a few days, or your symptoms worsen or you struggle to drink fluids, you should see your doctor.

How can parents protect themselves and their children?

You can easily pick this up when in close contact with someone who is infected. My number one preventative recommendation as always is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Also disinfect common areas and toys shared by multiple children.  Parents, please talk to your children about good hygiene habits and why they should avoid putting any part of their hands or objects in their mouth. And keep anyone that is sick at home to avoid passing along this highly contagious disease.