Q:

Is hand, foot and mouth disease contagious?

A:

Quick Answer

Hand, foot and mouth disease, or HFMD, is a common viral illness that is contagious, as stated by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The disease is generally found among infants and children younger than age 5, although it can also occur in the adult population.

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Full Answer

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses in the Enterovirus group that also includes coxsackieviruses, enteroviruses, echoviruses and polioviruses. The most common virus causing HFMD in the United States is Coxsackievirus A16, although other viruses may be to blame; in particular, Eterovirus 71 has been associated with the disease, as mentioned by the CDC.

A skin rash, blister-like mouth sores and fever are all symptoms of the disease, according to the CDC. Often, HFMD is confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which is found in swine, sheep and cattle; however, the two are unrelated. Humans cannot get foot and mouth disease, and animals cannot contract HFMD.

Treatment for HFMD involves over-the-counter topical ointment to sooth rashes and blisters, according to HealthLine. Pain medication to alleviate sore throat or headache that sometimes accompanies HFMD may also be recommended. Salt water rinses, lozenges and medicated syrups may be used to relieve sore throat as well. If a sufferer of HFMD becomes dehydrated due to not taking in enough fluids while recuperating from HFMD, intravenous fluids may need to be administered.

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