Early symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease include fever, general malaise, loss of appetite and sore throat, according to Mayo Clinic. Progressive symptoms include red, painful lesions inside the mouth, including on the gums, tongue and inside of the cheeks.
A red rash on the palms, soles and buttocks may also develop, explains Mayo Clinic. The rash may not itch, although it may blister, break open and form a crust, notes WebMD.
A doctor generally diagnoses hand-foot-and-mouth disease based on a visual inspection and a conversation with the patient, notes Mayo Clinic. The age of the patient, pattern of symptoms and the appearance of the sores and rash are factors he uses to diagnose the disease. The patient does not usually have to undergo medical testing, states WebMD.
A group of viruses called enterovirus causes the disease, advises WebMD. The illness spreads through person-to-person contact via saliva, nasal secretions, respiratory droplets, stools and throat discharge, indicates Mayo Clinic. The incubation period from the time of exposure to the virus to the development of the initial symptoms ranges from three to six days.
Those most at risk of contracting hand-foot-and-mouth disease are children under the age of 10, advises Mayo Clinic. Young children in childcare are the most susceptible, although older adolescents and adults may contract the disease.