High schools in the area have been seeing an upswing in Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. While this is most often seen in young children, it is a mild, self-limiting viral disease that we can all catch.
It starts with a low grade fever leading to a sore throat and possibly some bumps, rash or blisters in the mouth, throat or other body parts (think hand and foot).
It is spread through close contact, coughing or sneezing, contact with feces, or touching objects that have the virus on them. Incubation period is usually 3-5 days and runs its course in about 10 days. It is VERY contagious!
There is no treatment or antibiotic for this — treat the symptoms — give Ibuprofen or Motrin for the fever. Maintain fluids which can be challenging when you have a sore throat or mouth sores.
The best defense is PREVENTION. It really is as simple as washing your hands really well and often with soap and warm water and drying with a paper town which is then discarded. Disinfect surfaces — sports equipment, keyboards, desks, locker rooms, door knobs — you got this. Maybe handing every member of your family a disinfectant wipe to wipe down a specific surface would be an efficient way to keep your home germ free. Don't forget your car! Remind your family to NOT share drinks, food, or utensils and to cover their mouth to cough (cough into their armpits).
A few extra precautions and reminders will help all of us head into winter in a healthier way.
Jayne Dwyer-Reff, RN