I was talking with my sister-in-law the other day about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and it made me wonder how much people know about this infection. Heck, it made me wonder how much I know about it.
The first question is, Why in the world should I care about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? Doesn’t that only affect livestock?
Nope, that’s Foot and Mouth Disease. Livestock, apparently, do not have hands. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (I’m tired of typing that whole thing- let’s just call it HFMD like the professionals do) infects humans, mostly those under the age of 10.
Okay, so what is HFMD?
It’s a viral infection that causes fever, rash, and blisters. The rash/blisters are normally located on the feet and hands (betcha didn’t see that one coming). The disease is normally fairly mild, but can you imagine having a 6-year-old with rashes and blisters on his feet and hands? The poor thing!
Is it contagious?
Yes, it’s a virus. It’s spread through nose/throat droplets, blister fluid, and stool. You can slow down infection by washing hands and surfaces well, which is a pretty smart thing to do with flu season coming up.
Why should I care?
There have been a few outbreaks this season in the US. They’re mild, as usual. However, in Vietnam, there’s been a more startling outbreak. Over 40,000 have been sickened, and 98 have died. Normally, only about 10 or so people die yearly from HFMD. This is a big jump! Until we know why this happened, it’s important to be cautious. The virus could have mutated and become more pathogenic. Or it could be something to do with the people themselves- they’re doing something different that’s making them more susceptible. Either way, the best way to prevent more tragedy is to just use everyday common sense. Prevent transmission with proper hygiene and hand washing!