Every parent of a school-aged child knows that infectious illnesses will sweep through classrooms around this time of year. Some illnesses are difficult to get a handle on. One such disease is hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and it affects around 200,000 Americans each year.
Experts from Georgia’s West Central Health District have warned that this year could be a record-breaking year and it has already caused outbreaks in school children and college students.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) is a very common ailment because it is highly contagious. It spreads through contact with mucus or saliva – so you can get it from a kiss, sneeze or even a handshake.
Children in preschool and kindergarten are often quite grabby and can easily spread the illness. On college campuses, food and drinks are often shared which makes the students more likely to spread it around.
Senior citizens or people with weakened immune systems are also quite vulnerable. But anyone can get it – even if you are in perfect health. The symptoms are not life-threatening and tend to be mild.
The symptoms include a sore throat and fever. The most distinguishing feature of HFMD is the itchy red spots that pop up on your hands, feet, and mouth.
HFMD clears up by itself within a week or two – but you may have to take a couple days off to prevent spreading it to others.
In rare cases, HFMD may lead to brain infections like meningitis or encephalitis. To prevent this illness in your family, make sure everyone washes their hands after using the bathroom and before touching food. Share away, people.