Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

I am just putting every family member, coworker, friend, acquaintance, and stranger on notice that you could be fodder for my next blog post….

It will be unnamed family members today.

So, we recently had a mini epidemic of hand, foot, and mouth disease (aka HFMD) in our family, striking 2 adult daughters, 2 son-in-laws, one husband, and one small grandchild. I was spared.

We think it was Disneyland’s fault.  The incubation period is 3-7 days and HFMD started with the first family member on day 5 after a Disneyland trip; the happiest place on Earth creating a most unhappy time.  Incongruent, I know.

HFMD is a viral illness that usually onIy children get; most adults are supposedly immune to it because, it is thought, that most adults already got it as children, maybe even unknowingly.  It is supposed to be quite common. However, I don’t remember ever seeing this disease when my 6 children were growing up, or for that matter, ever, even though I am a registered nurse and see all kinds of things. But I hear that it is going around now.

Not to be confused with Hoof and Mouth disease (HMD), please.  According to the CDC and Wikipedia, usually only animals get that; fortunately humans are rarely affected by HMD. Interestingly, HMD is a highly contagious, serious, sometimes fatal virus that affects cloven-hoofed livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats, but also can infect wild animals like deer, antelope, and bison. Well, I think it is interesting anyway.

But back to HFMD, the real topic at hand.  HFMD starts off with cold or flu-like symptoms, then in 90% of the people a rash develops after 1 or 2 days on the – you guessed it –  hands, feet, and mouth; although the rash is not entirely limited to those areas. Some of my family members reported the rash being extremely painful, likening it to shingles pain, but none of those people have ever had shingles, so…

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Anyway, THE RASH: Red, roundish, varying in size from very little to larger and running- together-size, that appeared in our family members flat or raised or as blisters.  After a few days the pain dissipates, the rash fades to more of a brownish color, and the skin looks rather wax-coated and scaly.  I was rather shocked to observe that when the skin was shed it looked like many layers of skin were affected.  One of my daughters told me that she read on an internet site that some people lose their fingernails or toenails. (Update 9/16/14: this same daughter has lost fingernails and toenails to this day.  It is noteworthy though, that she had been on steroids at the time, which suppresses the immune system, so perhaps that is why she experienced the worse reactions.)

HFMD usually runs its course over 7-10 days, presents with fever, sore throat, and malaise; and is usually without any complications. It is spread the same way as colds and flus.

The moral of this story is, no, not don’t go to Disneyland ever, but use good hygiene and keep your terrain strong.  And eat lots of coconut oil. (When the first family member got sick I started eating 2-4 tablespoons throughout the day.  Who knows, maybe that is why I didn’t get it.)  Bottom line, you just never know where the next virus will be hiding, waiting for an unsuspecting human.

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2 thoughts on “Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

  1. Thanks for info, Vanessa, sorry to hear of the illness in your family…Elk Grove, CA had a huge outbreak of HFMD a couple weeks ago!

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