As a kid, being sick sounds like a lot of fun. No school, no house chores, no homework. Just an entire day to relax, watch movies, and fill up on chicken noodle soup and apple juice.
Of course, children tend to forget that all the relaxation and fun comes with the unpleasant consequences of the sickness itself. Vomiting, coughing, fatigue, fever, whatever the case may be.
And as an adult, being sick is even less fun. Without a mom or nanny to wait on you hand and foot, a sick day generally just means a missed work day. And that always comes back to haunt your paycheck.
But sometimes it seems like there’s nothing you can do to avoid sickness. In Virginia, one particular virus is becoming harder and harder to escape.
The Virus Gone Viral
It’s called hand, foot, and mouth disease and kids are coming down with it left and right. Some doctors reported having 5 or 6 new cases of the disease every day.
The disease seems to be similar to chicken pox, and even includes some nasty sores and rashes. In fact, the reason for the disease’s name is due to the fact that the sores seem to gather only on the feet, hands, and in or around the mouth. Other symptoms are fatigue, fever, and difficulty swallowing.
While it generally affects children under the age of 5, anyone can be susceptible. In fact, many children or adults will carry the disease without showing symptoms, and end up spreading the virus. (1)
Another dangerous aspect of hand, foot, and mouth disease is the risk of dehydration. Due to the painful mouth sores, many children will be reluctant to eat and drink. It’s very important to be getting enough liquids, and parents are encouraged to seek medical assistance if their child becomes dehydrated.
Unfortunately, as of yet there is no cure for the disease. Your best bet, doctors suggest, is to take ibuprofen or tylenol to treat the symptoms.
How Contagious Is It?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is extremely contagious, especially for children under the age of 5, but for adolescents and adults as well.
Although the fever can last 5 days, the virus can remain in the body for weeks after the symptoms have cleared, so it’s important to stay at home until your doctor gives the okay.
The virus is found in nose and throat secretions, so saliva and runny noses are a main concern. It is also found in the blister fluid and feces. For these reasons, it is advisable to be extremely careful in places where many children congregate such as schools, daycares, parks, and swimming pools. (2)
Simple Preventative Measures
Although even the most careful of people can still be at risk for this disease, there are many precautions you can take that make a significant difference when trying to keep yourself and your children from getting sick.
- Avoid coming in close contact with infected persons
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching possibly contaminated objects and surfaces such as door handles
- Take special care during warm weather, as this disease tends to thrive in the hotter months
- Clean and disinfect doorknobs, light switches, handles, and toys frequently
- Don’t share eating utensils or cups with others (2, 3)
Whether you live near Virginia or not, taking these preventative measures is extremely advisable. Even if there’s not a high chance of your getting hand, foot, and mouth disease, there are always viruses hanging around just waiting for an unsuspecting person to come along. Here’s to a healthy year!