Hand, foot and mouth disease
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|Hand, foot and mouth disease
Classification and external resources
|Typical lesions around the mouth of an 11 month old male|
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a human syndrome caused by intestinal viruses of the Picornaviridae family. The most common strains causing HFMD are Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus 71 (EV71).
HFMD usually affects infants and children, and is quite common. It is moderately contagious and is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or feces of an infected person. It typically occurs in small epidemics in nursery schools or kindergartens, usually during the summer and autumn months. The usual incubation period is 3–7 days.
It is extremely uncommon in adults; however, still a possibility. Most adults have strong enough immune systems to defeat the virus, but those with immune deficiencies are very susceptible. HFMD is not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is a disease affecting sheep, cattle, and swine, and which is unrelated to HFMD (but also caused by a member of the Picornaviridae family).
 Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of HFMD include: 
- Sore throat
- Painful oral lesions
- Non-itchy body rash, followed by sores with blisters on palms of hands and soles of feet
- Oral ulcer
- Sores or blisters may be present on the buttocks of small children and infants
- Irritability in infants and toddlers
- Loss of appetite.
The common incubation period (the time between infection and onset of symptoms) is from three to seven days.
Early symptoms are likely to be fever often followed by a sore throat. Loss of appetite and general malaise may also occur. Between one and two days after the onset of fever, painful sores (lesions) may appear in the mouth and/or throat. A rash may become evident on the hands, feet, and occasionally the buttocks (but generally, the rash on the buttocks will be caused from the diarrhea.) Not all symptoms will be present in all cases.
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. Individual symptoms, such as fever and pain from the sores, may be eased with the use of medication. HFMD is a viral disease that has to run its course; many doctors do not issue medicine for this illness, unless the infection is severe. Infection in older children, adolescents, and adults is normally very mild and lasts around 1 week or sometimes more. Fever reducers will help to control high temperatures. Luke-warm baths will also help bring temperature down.
Only a very small minority of sufferers require hospital admission, mainly as a result of neurological complications (encephalitis, meningitis, or acute flaccid paralysis) or pulmonary edema/pulmonary hemorrhage