Q: I'm a 30-year-old mother of a 2-year-old. Should I be worried about getting hand-foot-and-mouth disease? How can I prevent it?
A: Hand-foot-and-mouth is a viral illness that usually affects children younger than 5 years of age. Adults can get infected with the virus but will usually have minimal or no symptoms when compared to the typical presentation in younger children.
The virus is transmitted through close personal contact, the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or contaminated surfaces. There is no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease, so parents should focus on symptom relief.
The most important aspect of treatment is maintenance of adequate hydration. If hydration is not possible, the child should see a health-care provider to ensure IV hydration is not needed.
To prevent spread, parents should focus on washing hands with soap and water, cleaning soiled surfaces frequently and avoiding close contact with the infected individual as much as possible. A person is typically most contagious within the first week of illness but, in rare cases, they can be contagious for weeks after symptom resolution.
— Case Tedder, M.D., Erlanger Primary Care – Soddy Daisy; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society