Hand, foot, mouth disease makes an unseasonal appearance

Hand, foot, mouth disease makes an unseasonal appearance


Hand, foot and mouth disease is making an unseasonal appearance among little children in the Quad-Cities, according to Quad-City physicians.

At least one Quad-City childcare facility has notified parents about the outbreak.

“It’s going around,” said Dr. Aimee Behnke, pediatrician with Genesis. She said the appearance of the virus is unusual because it normally doesn’t spread during the winter. “We’ve had a pretty warm fall that went right into winter,” she said, so that could have something to do with its presence in the Quad-Cities.

The symptoms, she said, include a high fever, “super-cranky kids, like they’re possessed by a demon,” and spots on the back of the throat, the palms and soles of the feet and sometimes on a child’s bottom.

Some children with the virus don’t want to eat because it hurts to swallow, she said.

Dr. Vikram Agrawal, pediatrician at UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics – Moline, said the disease is caused by the coxsackievirus. “It usually lasts one week to 10 days,” he said. “It’s scary for parents because of the way it sounds.”

Often, the virus spreads through daycare and preschool facilities, he said. The illness should be treated with hydration and fever control, he said.

Because it’s a virus, parents should teach children good hygiene habits to prevent its spread. “Teach children to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough,” Agrawal said. Also, children should not share food or utensils, and toys should be sanitized in daycare and classroom settings, he said.

The major mode of transmission is through nasal secretions, Agrawal said.

Unfortunately, “once you show the symptoms, you’ve already spread it to whoever you’re going to spread it to,” Behnke said. “The rash itself is not contagious.”

“Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing” helps keep the virus from spreading, Behnke said. Antibiotics will not help a virus, both physicians said.

-- Linda Cook


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