Hand, foot and mouth disease: what moms should know?

Pedia: Hand, foot and mouth disease yan mommy.

Me: Ha? Malala ba yan doc? San nya nakuha yan?

Pedia: Hindi naman. Kapamilya yan ng bulutong. Nag-aaral na ba sya?

Me: Di pa po.

Pedia: Madalas maglaro sa mall?

Me: Di rin naman po.

Pedia: Viral kasi yan…

Basically that was our conversation with the pediatrician last October 27 at the Emergency Room of National Children’s Hospital when she saw Martie’s hands and feet (picture below) and maybe, just like me, this hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is quite foreign to you, so I would like to share our experience with HFMD and maybe you could get something valuable out of it and ultimately prevent this disease to taint your kids and your family members.

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Confusing symptoms – Martie had a temperature last Friday evening while we’re on our way to Quezon City. It was above 38 deg. C and he feels so cold. Upon reaching our place, I gave him paracetamol syrup and he felt fine and slept. A few hours after, he threw-up what he took for dinner and then slept again. Though-out the night his temperature is elevated but not fever-grade, so I thought he ate something bad that day that caused it. The next morning, fever is present once more, so I gave him paracetamol and stick on some Kool Fever. He’s active and energetic so we’re not really worried, but what we wanted to know is where the fever is coming from? Is it because he ate something awful? But he doesn’t have diarrhea. So, we just observe his temperature the whole day, and notice that fever shows up less frequent, so we’re quite relieved and thought that he will be OK the next day. The next day, around 8am, he had fever again, I decided to call his pediatrician and told her what happened and she suggested to bring him to the nearest hospital so that we can determine the focus of the fever. When we’re all prepared to go, Martie’s temperature is no longer elevated… 36.5 deg. C. So we said maybe that’s the last straw of fever, so we just continued our usual activity at home while checking his temperature from time to time. Then we noticed some blisters on his right knee and above the hands, when we saw it, his dad immediately said its chicken pox and we brought him to the hospital.

The suspects – Upon learning that he’s infected with HFMD, we asked ourselves, where did he get it? Aren’t we hygienic enough? Did he get that from the swimming at the pool? Did he get it from his friends? I really don’t know because it’s viral, so it’s anywhere and everywhere. Upon returning to Antipolo, his yaya went hysterical when she learned that Martie has HFMD. Why so bother? He’s ok, I told her. She kept on saying sorry and was really crying. She told me that her neighbor (technically our neighbor too) has the HFMD also. They just learned when the mother finally decided to bring all her kids to the hospital. They’re Martie’s friends and shake hands with them whenever they see each other during their morning trips outside the house. Bingo!

Un-Clear Evidence – Blisters are concentrated within the area of the hands (up to elbows), feet (up to knees) and around the lips and inside the mouth (tongue and throat included). Good thing Martie had few blisters in the mouth area and his appetite did not change significantly. I gave him a lot of cold drinks to soothe the blisters inside the mouth.

The cure – Nothing. It is a self-limiting disease; it will take its course without the need of any medication or treatment. Vitamin C and Zinc to boost the immune system is all you need to overcome the symptoms and to recover faster.

Stop the spread – Even if your child feels fine (usually after the blisters are all out) and do not have fever at all… please make them stay at home and avoid contact with other kids for the rest of the incubation period. Usually one week, but the safest is two weeks. This is highly contagious and a simple hand shake can pass this disease around, that simple.

Inform the public – Don’t be ashamed of this disease, this is totally different from the FMD or foot and mouth disease that affects animals like sheep, cattle and swine. This affects mainly kids below five years old and some cases even adults (though symptoms may vary). Early and proper detection is important as well as proper documentation because it could lead to an outbreak or small epidemic. Let’s all be responsible and aim for a healthy community. 😉

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7 Comments

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