Is Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease On The Rise In Massachusetts?
Like most families who took Covid-19 seriously, we seemed to survive two winters in a row without, what seemed to be, any winter-type virus. No colds, flu, stomach bug, but that seemed to change last summer.
The masks and distancing seemed to keep normal, every year sickness at bay, except for those who caught Covid, of course. Well since the masks came off in the Spring of 2022, it seems viruses are making a come back!
We had the chance to attend the popular Cummington Fair during the last weekend of August, and about four days later, my 6 year-old spiked a temp of 102.6 and felt terrible rather quickly. (I'm not saying the fair is where he picked it up, I can only assume).
At first, I thought it was Covid, but the fever seemed to be his only symptom, then I noticed white spots on his throat after he told me his throat was getting sore. At this point, I presumed strep throat. A trip to the pediatrician resulted in negative Covid and Strep tests. I was pretty surprised as I was certain it was strep.
The doctor told me, "It's viral and should clear up on its own, if it doesn't, come back for another visit." She then proceeded to tell me that there are "so many viruses in circulation at the moment, we couldn't test for all of them."
About 48 hours after his initial fever, which had now gone away, my son came up to me to show me his blister filled hands. Mystery solved! Hand, foot, and mouth. I remember my two sons had it when they were younger, incessantly drooling and inconsolable.
Thankfully, it wasn't that bad this time.
What Is Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is an illness caused by a group of viruses called enteroviruses. This disease is most common in children under 5 years of age; but it can occur in adults. -boston.gov
HFMD lives in the stool, nose (mucus) and throat (spit, sputum) of an infected person. You can catch it by directly or indirectly:
- Breathing in air contaminated with the virus after an infected person close to you has sneezed or coughed
- Touching the stool of an infected person (ex. changing a diaper)
- Touching the nose (mucus) and throat (spit, sputum) of an infected person and touching your own eyes, nose, or mouth
- Touching objects like toys and door handles contaminated by the virus
Infected people are most contagious during the first week of the illness. However, the virus can remain in the body for weeks after a person’s symptoms are gone. This means that infected people can still pass the infection to others even if they appear well.
It usually takes 3-6 days for a person to have symptoms after infection. Signs and symptoms of HFMD may include:
- Poor appetite
- Sore throat
- Small painful blisters inside the mouth on tongue, inside of the cheeks, and gums (last 4 to 6 days)
- Rash or blisters on the palms of hands, on fingers, and on the soles of the feet for 7 to 10 days
- Blisters may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area
Some people may not get all the symptoms of the disease. Children may become dehydrated if they are not able to swallow liquids due to painful mouth sores.
Information courtesy of boston.gov
Although, some sources say once your child is fever free for 24 hours, you're good to send them back to school, daycare, etc, but infected children can still spread the virus for about a week.
As far as if hand, foot, and mouth is on the rise in Massachusetts, I cannot find any literature that warns of it specifically; however, I had a close friend tell me that his daughter just got over the illness as well and that her pediatrician said "this season is the worst he's seen it in ten years".