LONG BRANCH, NJ, June 11, 2008 –Parents of young children are often faced with fevers. But when the fever is accompanied by sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters, many parents who aren’t familiar with this condition become very worried.
Meg Fisher, MD, pediatrician and Medical Director of the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, said that a fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters are characteristics of a common childhood illness called Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).
“The condition can start with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise and a sore throat,” Dr. Fisher said. One or two days after the fever begins, painful sores can develop in the mouth. “They begin as small red bumps that blister on the inside of the cheeks, tongue and gums.” In addition, small blisters which start out as red bumps can appear on the soles of the child’s hand and feet. They may normally do not itch but can be bothersome to very young children or infants.
Dr. Fisher said that HFMD should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease often associated with cattle, sheep and pigs. “The two conditions are not related at all, except they have similar names,” she said. HFMD is caused by the Coxsackievirus and sometimes by other enteroviruses.
HFMD is moderately contagious, usually within the first week of symptoms. The infection usually goes away on its own in seven to 10 days without medicine or other treatment. In fact, there is no effective antiviral therapy for any of the enteroviruses.
“Infection of HFMD is spread by direct contact between people,” Dr. Fisher said. “Saliva, stool, and discharges from the blisters are all sources of the disease.”
While HFMD is most common in children, adults are susceptible too, Dr. Fisher warns. “As with most infections, proper hand washing which includes warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds, is the most important way to keep all germs and viruses from spreading.” Although outbreaks of HFMD can happen at any time of the year, it is more common during the summer season.
Parents with an infected child should be very vigilant about hand washing, Dr. Fisher said. Household surfaces and contaminated or soiled items can be cleaned with simple soap and water or a diluted solution of bleach and water.
“If your child is diagnosed with HFMD, try to keep him or her away from other children while infected,” Dr. Fisher said. “Avoid close contact, kissing, hugging and sharing utensils.”
If you suspect your child may have HFMD, contact your pediatrician for an exact diagnosis, Dr. Fisher recommends.
For more information on the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, visit, www.barnabashealth.org. For a referral to a pediatrician, call 1-888-724-7123.
CONTACT: Kristine A. Brown
Director of Public Relations
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