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(Chester County Moms - June 15, 2011)
If you are a mom with a child in daycare or preschool, then you've probably received one or two infamous and dreaded "Dear Parents" letters in your child's school mailbox or folder. The letters typically go something like this...
We wanted to inform you that a child in our program has been diagnosed with ... (insert childhood infection name here)."
You get that letter, you take a deep breath, and you hope beyond hope that your child doesn't pick up the illness-du-jour.
One infection that goes around from child to child is Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, a common illness caused by the Coxsackie A virus. It typically affects young children, ages 6 months through 4 years during the warmer months, but it can occur in children up to 10 years old. Occasionally, adolescents and adults can also be affected, but usually they have the antibodies to protect them.
How to recognize it
Symptoms for Hand-Foot-Mouth may present themselves differently in different children. Some may have all these symptoms, others might only show a few.
How it transfers
The virus is spread through person-to-person contact. It can be transferred from direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva or fluid from the blisters. You are most contagious the first week you have the disease, and it is important to know that it may several days for symptoms to appear after first being infected. The virus can remain in the body after the symptoms subside, and it is possible to spread the infection during this time.
How to avoid it
Although there is no known cure, thorough and routine hand-washing is necessary to help prevent the spread of the Coxsackie A virus. Cleaning and disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items that may have been exposed will also help.
How to treat Hand-Foot-Mouth at home
If your child experiences any of the following, contact your physician immediately:
As moms, we do our best to provide a healthy and germ-free environment for our kids, but know that at some point they may catch what is going around in spite of our best efforts. Coxsackie A is one of those common illnesses among children that can be hard to completely avoid since it is contagious before the symptoms present themselves.
If your child has been diagnosed with Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, please contact your child's care provider out of courtesy so that they can inform other parents to know to look out for signs and symptoms.
(Please note: There is no connection between the human infection called Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease and the animal disease called Hoof-and-Mouth disease.)
Last Updated: 9/11/2012