News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What You Should Know About Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease

Coxsackieviruses can cause meningitis and hand, foot and mouth disease.

Summer usually brings a peak in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease – a contagious, viral illness affecting mostly small children.

Dr. Barbara Durso is a pediatrician with Parkland Hospital System. In this edition of Vital Signs, she tells KERA’s Sam Baker most cases of hand, foot and mouth aren’t serious, but they can cause discomfort.

Quick Facts about Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

  • Usually causes fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet
  • Is a contagious disease
  • Mostly affects infants and children younger than 5 years old, but people of any age can be infected
  • Has no specific treatment
  • Infection risk can be reduced by practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands often
  • Is not the same as foot-and-mouth disease

Dr. Durso says...

About the virus: “The thing with hand foot and mouth is you can be infected with that virus and not have the full blown condition. So, it spreads very easily. Some people may have no symptoms, and they can spread the virus to other people who then may have the obvious symptoms.”

Treatment: “The main treatment is pain control, and that means staying on top of the child’s perception of pain. So, if you have a child who says ‘my throat hurts,’ then giving them ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain control – or encouraging them to drink cold things or eat cold things because they tend to be more soothing to the throat."

Good news about HFMD: “The good news is it’s a mainly self-limiting disease in most children. And I think most parents can manage the pain and fever at home and keep their child hydrated, and they’ll get through this in about five to seven days.” 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.