This is an infectious disease caused by a family of viruses called Enteroviruses -- the commonest being the Coxsackie virus and Enterovirus. It can occur in people from various age groups, especially pre-schoolers. It is a very common disease in Singapore and has been in existence for many years. It is not a rare or new disease.
Children with HFMD will have blister-like or pimple-like rash on their hands, feet and buttocks, mouth ulcers and fever. In addition, the child may have a sore throat, runny nose, experience vomiting and diarrhoea, and may feel tired.
You may bring your child to the polyclinic or see your family doctor. There is no need to rush your child to the Children's Emergency just to confirm the diagnosis of HFMD.
HFMD can be easily spread through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters.
The disease is usually mild and most children will recover in about a week’s time. Only very rarely do certain rare strains of the virus cause complications such as inflammation of the brain and heart.
There is no specific treatment for HFMD. The symptoms are usually mild and children usually recover well as their own immune system fights off the virus. Your doctor will give medication to control the fever.
You should encourage your child to take as much oral fluids as possible. Your child may not have a good appetite because swallowing may be painful. However, ensure that your child has adequate fluid to prevent dehydration. Offer your child small amounts of fluid (about 10 – 30 mls each time) such as diluted juices, rice or barley water every half hourly and about 10 - 30 mls each time throughout the day. Antibiotics are ineffective because this is a viral, not a bacterial infection.
Specific immunity can occur, but a second episode is possible from a different strain of virus belonging to the enterovirus family.
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