This page was reviewed or revised on Friday, October 14, 2011 2:52 PM
Hand, foot and mouth disease is an infection caused by a virus. The disease affects mostly children under 10 years of age, but can happen at any age. Outbreaks are common in the summer and early fall.
Rash may appear on:
The disease is spread person-to-person by direct contact with the virus. The virus is found in the nose and throat discharge, saliva, blister fluid, and stool of infected persons. It can be spread by coughing and sneezing. It is not spread from animal to people.
It takes 3-5 days for symptoms to show. The disease is contagious until the sores are healed. The virus may be present in the stool for several weeks.
An infected person is most contagious during the first week of illness.
There is no evidence it will cause any adverse problems during pregnancy. However, mothers infected shortly before delivery may pass the virus to the newborn.
There is no treatment, other than relief of symptoms. Most recover within 7-10 days. Complications are not common.
There is no vaccine to prevent the disease.
The risk of infection can be reduced by using good hygiene practices:
A child-care centre or health-care facility with the disease should increase cleaning schedules.
To mix a cleaning solution, use household bleach, and mix 100 ml (7 tablespoons) household bleach to 5000 ml (20 cups) of water.
Bleach should be used after the surface is cleaned with soap and water.
Stay home when you are sick.
Children, who are in group settings, should stay home if they are not well enough to participate. Staying home may reduce the spread of the infection, but will not completely stop it.
Children, who feel well enough to participate in activities, can return to childcare or school, even if they still have the rash. There is no reason they cannot attend.
For more information contact Lambton Public Health at 519 383-8331 or toll free 1-800-667-1839.
Fact Sheet revised: May 5, 2010