I find it mildly hysterical that my last blog post was specifically about how to keep your children healthy as we go from Summer into Autumn and into those brisk, cold months. What I really should have said is “Hide yo kids; hide yo wife” and maybe go live in a bubble.
Our little “sickly” household came face to face with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease last week. The best way to explain Hand, Foot, and Mouth would be to quote my friend’s mother. After my friend told her mother that Nat had come down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, she responded with “Hang up the phone. That stuff is incredibly contagious”. My friend lives in NH while I’m in ME. But seriously, it’s very very contagious.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is caused by the Coxsackievirus (and Enterovirus 17) which causes sores, spots, and/or blisters to appear most notably on the hands, feet, around and in the mouth. What the name doesn’t tell you, the virus does – it also can appear on the torso and genital area. It typically presents with a fever the first day, followed by the rash, or at least did in Nat’s case.
It is typically spread by fecal matter and saliva, which, when babies, toddlers, or small children are involved, means that they spread that nasty little virus on everything they touch. It is almost impossible to protect against (wash your hands to avoid spreading it but unless you are ready to sanitize your child and stick them in a bubble, your kid is probably going to come in contact with it if there is an infection nearby). It runs rampant through day cares and in my case, affected at least 4 other children in my daycare. Why? Is it because my daycare is dirty? No. Once again, it’s very commonly spread by little children with their adorably cute (yet disgustingly gross) chubby hands.
In Nat’s case, the first day he was sent home with a fever, and I figured it was just his typical random fevers he gets. I didn’t notice any spots, however, was a little nervous since the day care had mentioned that they were sending home 4 other children with fevers. Upon arriving at home with the little bugger, I found him clingier (or snuggly) than usual. After a dosage of Motrin, his fever didn’t return. The next morning, I got up, ready to send him off to daycare since he didn’t have a fever. I went to change his diaper and found that all over his bum and genital area, he had sores/blisters. I have never seen Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, but assumed that it was the nasty little virus (probably due to my newly awakened mothering instincts). It was confirmed by his doctor and I stayed home with him the next few days.
Unfortunately, it’s a virus. So not only is it contagious, but there is also nothing you can really give to the kids to help them get over it faster. I noticed that Nat was chewing up his food, sucking on it, then spitting it out, so I can only assume that he may have had some in his mouth or throat that was causing discomfort when eating. We kept to liquids and snuggles. The rash can last up to a month though, and even now, I can still see the spots on his trunk and genital area (but at least he doesn’t look like he has herpes anymore…). Children with the virus are said to no longer be contagious when both conditions are met:
No fever is over 24 hours and the blisters have to be scabbed over/no longer oozing.
Nat’s spots never oozed but you could see they had started to scab over (looked like dry skin). The biggest thing to keep an eye on is hydration. It’s the number one complication with the disease since if the child is experiencing discomfort from swallowing and has a fever, they may dehydrate. It typically affects children under the age of 5, however, adults can get it and apparently it’s pretty nasty (think adult onset with chicken pox). It is important to wash everything thoroughly.
My mother assures me that after Nat is about 3, both he and I will have super immune systems… We will see.
Has your child had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? Different Symptoms? Share your story/thoughts/and tips.