Doctor: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Extremely Contagious - WBAY

Doctor: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Extremely Contagious

Updated: Jul 17, 2014 06:01 PM

Parents, beware of hand, foot and mouth disease that doctors call extremely contagious.

The common virus became prevalent in our area earlier than normal this year.

A Prevea pediatrician explains the symptoms and how you can try to prevent it.

Pictures of people who contracted hand, foot and mouth disease show the tell-tale signs of one of the most common symptoms -- blisters on the hands, feet and mouth.

It's not to be confused with hoof and mouth disease in animals.

The one affecting humans has been very prevalent in the community over the last few weeks, says Dr. Joshua Rankin of Prevea.

He says normally the cases would start appearing now in mid to late summer, but he saw his first patients about six weeks ago.

While 90 percent of patients have no symptoms at all or just a 48-hour fever, the rest will develop a rash, with no treatment available.

"The majority of persons that I do see are in the day care setting and usually they heard, hear this from the day care center personnel who say 'I think your child has hand, foot and mouth,'" says Rankin.

Jill Dauphinais had to warn parents of nearly 100 children who go to Big Apple Day Care Center in Howard, where she is the director, that children contracted it.

So far, six or seven kids and two parents were diagnosed.

She sent home a letter explaining the situation and tips to prevent the spread.

"Usually you'll get one, maybe two, three cases a year," says Dauphinais. "I think we had one case last year, and this is the most we've ever seen at our center."

With something as contagious as hand, foot and mouth disease, day care centers say they have to stay on top of it, by cleaning everything that kids put in their mouths like toys, sometimes immediately after they take it out. Other staff are also staying longer to do one final wipe down of toys and stairwell rails and doorknobs at the end of each night.

"I'm a firm believer in not enough sanitizing," adds Dauphinais.

And she says it's working. She believes she's on the tail end of the breakout.

Rankin expects to see patients with hand, foot and mouth disease for at least another few weeks.

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