Recently, reports of an outbreak of “hand, foot and mouth disease” among schoolchildren in the holy city of Mecca and several neighboring countries have been circulating on social media platforms, raising concerns among parents about their children’s health. . The Saudi Ministry of Health responded to this news and explained to everyone the truth about this disease, its causes, modes of transmission, its implications on public health and how to protect ourselves and our children from it. He emphasized that hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild viral infection and there is no need to worry and necessary hygiene measures have been taken in schools to prevent the spread of infection.
In the face of this phenomenon, it has become necessary to explain the truth about this disease and answer common questions about it.
> What is hand, foot and mouth disease? Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a mild, contagious viral infection that is common among young children. Symptoms of this disease include mouth sores and rashes on hands and feet. Hand, foot and mouth disease is often caused by the Coxsackie virus. The disease is most prevalent in the summer and early fall in the United States, but in tropical climates, outbreaks occur during the rainy season.
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. However, frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with infected people can help reduce the child’s infection.
> What is the main cause of hand, foot and mouth disease? HFMD is caused by viruses from the enterovirus family, and coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of the disease. The disease can also be caused by other coxsackieviruses, including coxsackievirus A6, in which case the symptoms may be more severe.
> How does the injury occur? Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by exposure to an infected person with the Coxsackie virus. Most people get this infection – hand, foot and mouth disease – through the mouth. The disease is spread by direct exposure to an infected person’s secretions and fluids, including nasal or throat secretions, saliva, fluid from blisters, feces, and respiratory droplets suspended in the air after coughing or sneezing.
> Who is the person we fear will get sick?
The main risk factor for hand, foot and mouth disease is age, as it is most common among children between the ages of 5 and 7. This disease can affect people of any age. Older children and adults are thought to be immune to hand, foot and mouth disease. They often develop antibodies after exposure to disease-causing viruses. But young adults and adults can sometimes develop hand, foot, and mouth disease.
– Physical proximity. Children in schools, in particular, are at risk of transmission because the infection spreads through direct contact between people. This disease is very common in childcare centers, as young children need constant diaper changes and help to use the toilet, in addition to their tendency to put their hands in their mouths.
Children become highly contagious during the first week of developing hand, foot and mouth disease. But even after symptoms disappear, the virus remains dormant in the body for a few weeks. This means that the child can still affect others.
For some people, especially adults, the virus is usually transmitted without causing any symptoms.
In children, infectious fever and sore throat may begin. They may lose their appetite and sometimes feel sick. A day or two after the onset of fever, painful sores appear in the front of the mouth or throat. After a while, a rash appears, consisting of small, raised red spots on the skin of the hands and feet, and on the buttocks. They usually grow on the fingers, back, palms or soles of the feet and sometimes on the buttocks and thighs. The spots then turn into small blisters with a gray center.
Hand, foot and mouth disease may cause some or all of the following symptoms. It includes the following:
– Fever, sore throat, fatigue and loss of appetite.
– Painful, pustular lesions and irritation in infants and young children on the tongue, gums and inner cheeks.
– A red rash on the palms and soles, and sometimes on the buttocks. This rash is not itchy, but it sometimes blisters. The rash may appear red, white, gray, or just as small bumps depending on the skin color.
The usual period (incubation period) from the time of initial infection until symptoms appear is 3 to 6 days. The infection usually clears up within 7 to 10 days, and there is little a doctor can do, and hand, foot, and mouth disease usually does not require medical attention. Antibiotics do not help because the disease is caused by a virus.
Sores that appear in the back of the mouth and throat may indicate a viral disease called herpetic angina. Other features of herpetic angina include a sudden rise in temperature and, in some cases, convulsions. Rarely, sores appear on the hands, feet, or other parts of the body.
> When is a doctor’s consultation necessary? Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild disease. It is usually a fever and causes mild symptoms only for a few days as we mentioned. However, we recommend consulting a doctor in the following cases:
– If the child is less than six months old.
– If he has a weak immune system.
– If he has mouth sores or sore throat, and is unable to drink fluids due to pain.
– Finally, if the child’s symptoms do not improve after 10 days.
> Is hand, foot and mouth disease a serious disease? Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in children under 5 years of age, but anyone of any age can develop it.
It is usually mild and simple, and is not a serious illness, but it is highly contagious. It spreads rapidly in schools and childcare centers…
> What are the most important issues? Dehydration is one of the most common complications of hand, foot and mouth disease. The disease causes sores in the mouth and throat, making swallowing painful, and severe dehydration can be life-threatening if the child is not given intravenous fluids in the hospital.
Although the disease is usually mild and causes only a fever and mild symptoms that last a few days, there is a chance that the enteric virus that causes the disease can enter the brain, causing serious complications, including:
Viral meningitis is a rare infection and inflammation of the membranes (meninges) and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
– Encephalitis: In this severe and life-threatening disease, inflammation of the brain occurs, although this is rare.
There is no specific medical treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), as we mentioned, the rash appears as small red bumps or blisters on the palms of the hands, feet, and fingers. and toes, which appear in the mouth in the form of painful sores or sores that cluster mainly at the back of the throat.
Simple steps can be taken to relieve symptoms and prevent dehydration during illness:
– Encourage the affected child to drink plenty of fluids during illness.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers to control pain and fever, relieve pain from mouth ulcers, and reduce fever. These medications include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
– To get rid of itching, the rash is usually not painful or itchy, so there is no need to put anything on it. If itching appears, hydrocortisone ointment 1 percent (without medication) may be used.
To make eating and drinking easier without pain, we recommend the following:
– Sucking on ice or ice chips.
– Eat ice cream or sherbet.
– Drink cold drinks like water.
– Drink hot drinks like tea.
– Avoid acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, fruit drinks and soda.
– Eat soft foods that don’t require a lot of chewing.
Children with hand, foot, and mouth disease need help cleaning their bodies daily to remove attached bacteria and viruses and prevent further infections. However, when bathing children with the disease, the patient should be treated slowly to avoid blistering of the skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, we can reduce our children’s risk of developing hand, foot, and mouth disease by following several methods:
– Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, after using the toilet or changing diapers, before preparing or eating food, and after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
– Teach children healthy hygiene habits Teach your children how to wash their hands and help them to do this regularly. Teach them how to follow good hygiene habits in general. Explain to them why they shouldn’t put their fingers, hands, or other objects in their mouths.
– Disinfect common areas. Be sure to clean frequently used areas and surfaces with soap and water first. Then use a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water; To clean it. If you are in a childcare facility, follow a strict cleaning and disinfection schedule, the virus can live for days on shared surfaces, including doorknobs, and on shared items such as toys.
– Avoid close contact and people with hand, foot and mouth disease should be isolated from others when symptoms of the disease appear. Because it is highly contagious. Children with hand, foot, and mouth disease should stay at home and not attend childcare centers or schools until the fever is gone and the mouth sores are healed. Don’t go to work and stay home if you’re sick.
* Community Medical Consultant