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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)? HFMD is an illness caused by a virus. It should not be confused with Foot and Mouth disease, which is seen in pigs, sheep and cattle. These two illnesses come from different viruses. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is not a serious disease and complications are rare.

 

 
  • Front page of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Fact SheetHand, Foot and Mouth Disease Fact Sheet (PDF 82KB)
    View, download and print the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Fact Sheet. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is an illness caused by a virus. It should not be confused with Foot and Mouth disease, which is seen in pigs, sheep and cattle. These two illnesses come from different viruses. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is not a serious disease and complications are rare.
 

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Infectious Disease Control Team:

  • 519-663-5317 Ext. 2330
 

What are the symptoms of Hand Food and Mouth Disease (HFMD)?

Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease may include fever, poor appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea, feeling tired, headache and sore throat followed by small, painful sores in the mouth. These sores can be found on the sides of the tongue, gums and the inside of the cheeks. A rash of red spots with blisters will then develop on the palms of the hands, the bottom of the feet and sometimes on the buttocks. The illness usually lasts for seven to ten days.

It takes three to six days from the time the virus gets into the body before symptoms start to show. Some people who have the virus in them may not show any symptoms at all.

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Who is at risk?

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is common in infants and children under 10 years of age. It is often spread among children in childcare settings but adults may also be at risk. Infections occur more often when hygiene is poor and during summer and early fall.

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How is it spread?

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease spreads from person to person through contact with someone’s nose and throat secretions, saliva, fluid from the blisters or stool. An infected person is most contagious during the first week of illness. The viruses that cause Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease may be on surfaces for long periods of time. It is possible to become sick with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease from contact with soiled objects.

A person can shed the virus from their respiratory tract for about a week and in their stool for several weeks. Some people excreting the virus, including most adults, have no symptoms at all.

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Treatment

There is no treatment for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Doctors may recommend an over-the-counter drug such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever or pain.

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Prevention

You can lower the chance of getting sick with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease by doing the following:

Wash Your Hands

  • Make sure hands are properly washed after using the toilet, changing diapers, wiping a child’s nose, helping others toilet, before preparing food, etc.
  • The six steps to good hand washing are:
    1. Wet hands with warm running water
    2. Put liquid soap on hands
    3. Lather hands and scrub for 20 seconds
    4. Rinse under running water
    5. Dry your hands with paper towels
    6. Use the towel to turn off the taps

 

 
 
  1. Apply the hand rub to your hands. Use an amount about the size of a dime.
  2. Rub your hands together until the hand rub is gone. Hands will feel dry in about 15 seconds.

Clean and sanitize

Clean and sanitize washroom surfaces and all hand contact surfaces at least daily. 

  • Regular cleaning schedules in child care centres and health care facilities with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease should be enhanced. A 1:50 household bleach solution (approximately 1000 ppm) is recommended for use and can be prepared by mixing 100ml (7 tablespoons) household bleach with 5000ml (20 cups) water. Bleach should be used after the surface is cleaned with soap and water.

Stay home when sick

Keeping sick children at home can lower the chance of spreading the illness to other children at school, day care or playgroups. Children who feel well enough to go to school, day care etc. can return even if they still have the rash.

Avoid kissing and sharing anything that has been in someone else's mouth who is sick with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease

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Date of creation: November 5, 2013
Last modified on: January 11, 2016

References

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. (2015). Retrieved from
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/enterovirus/hfhf.htm
2Grenier, D. & Leduc, D. (2008). Well beings: A guide to health in child care (3rd ed). Ottawa: Canadian Pediatric Society. Retrieved from
http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/hand_foot_and_mouth_disease
3Pickering, L. K. (Ed.). (2012). Enterovirus (nonpoliovirus) infections. In 2012 Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases (29th ed; pp. 315-318). Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.