Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and most children will get it in their lifetime.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Hand, foot and mouth disease may cause every parent of an infant or toddler to cringe. It spreads like wildfire through daycares and causes little ones some discomfort. The disease typically impacts children ages six months to four years. The virus is highly contagious and is found in saliva, nasal secretions, feces and fluid in blisters.

Dr. Gregory Anderson with Black Hills Pediatrics says it’s an unsettling thought, but almost all children will get this disease in their lifetime. He says not to panic if your child begins showing symptoms, “It doesn’t matter what daycare you go to. When you get that many little kids together, they’re going to start spreading germs and diseases.”

Symptoms can include fever, mouth sores and body spots which may appear on hands, feet, elbows, knees and bottoms. It is a sneaky disease because some children don’t show any symptoms and could be spreading the disease without even knowing it.

Jennifer Brown, the assistant director of Our Little Treasures Daycare and Preschool says their facility is extra cautious of illnesses. “Hand, foot and mouth can range in severity, in school-aged children. It might be a cold sore and generally not feeling well. Whereas if an infant catches it, they could have a hard time eating and dehydration could be life-threatening for those children.”

Children can be contagious weeks after they contract hand, foot and mouth. The virus usually runs its course in about a week. Children should be able to return to daycare or school once their fever has resolved.

Anderson says, “Fever is a universal for not going to daycare, so it doesn’t matter what you have. If your temperature is over 100.3, you should just stay out of daycare until the fever has been gone for 24 hours … Once the fever is gone, the rash most likely still be there, and it will still look nasty, but they can go back to daycare.”

Conversations with parents are also important to keep everyone informed.

Brown says, “A huge thing is communication with parents. We do let our parents know what’s going on and what kind of viruses are going around and what we have seen in the classrooms so that they can watch for the symptoms at home.”

The best way to protect yourself from any virus is frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces and shared toys. Since this disease is viral, no medication can be prescribed. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used for symptoms.

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