Local News

Hand, foot and mouth disease on the rise in summer

Posted July 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, 8-year-old Grace Koves started complaining that she wasn't feeling well.

“Her throat was hurting, and she felt very hot,” her mother, Kelli Williams, said. “We took her temperature, and she had a fever of 103.”

Williams said a rash and then little blisters appeared on Grace's hands. More showed up on the bottom of her feet and in her mouth.

“You had blisters in your mouth that really hurt when you swallowed,” Grace said, recalling her illness.

The youngster was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease. It's a viral infection spread from close personal contact, through coughing or sneezing or touching shared surfaces.

Dr. Joanne Fruth, a physician with Accent Urgent Care in Cary, said it can take three to six days for symptoms to appear after infection.

“If it bubbles up, if you have a blister and you test that blister, it's going to have a virus in it,” she said.

There's no vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease, and the symptoms typically last about a week. Some mouthwashes, sprays or gels can numb mouth sores. Pain-relieving medications also can help.

“We recommend Tylenol, ibuprofen or Aleve in adults,” Fruth said. “Don't give children aspirin. That leads to Reye’s syndrome. So, that's just universal - you don't give your child aspirin.”

The rest of Grace's family kept shared surfaces clean and washed their hands often, so no one else got sick.

WRAL health expert Dr. Allen Mask said he’s seen an increase in hand, foot and mouth disease among his patients, especially during the summer.

The risk is higher among young children in day care. He said day care workers need to be diligent in hand washing and cleaning surfaces.

Children in other group environments, such as summer camps where kids share utensils and other items, are also at risk.

Adults can get the disease as well.

“It's a miserable feeling with the fever and painful blisters, especially those inside the mouth,” Mask said.

There is evidence that people can transmit the disease for a time after symptoms go away, so doctors recommend anyone who has recovered from an infection continue to wash hands frequently and clean surfaces.


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