Mercy Pediatrician, Dr Ashanti Woods, Discusses Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
More than a dozen outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease have been reported statewide this year. The virus, commonly seen in children, causes mouth or throat pain, and a rash on hands and feet. A doctor shared some information to keep your family safe.
Handwashing is key in preventing hand-foot-and-mouth disease. As kids prepare to head back to school, Mercy Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Ashanti Woods notes that parents should teach their kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow to help prevent the spread of the disease.
"We have seen kids and parents with it, and we had a physician here at the hospital get a very bad case of it. That reminds us that we're all susceptible to it," Dr. Woods said.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, independent cases of HFMD are not reportable, but outbreaks are. Outbreaks are defined as 25 percent or more cases in a classroom or other identified group within a seven-day period.
Thirteen outbreaks have been reported between June 1 and Aug. 8 in Maryland. Last year, six were reported during the same time period. In 2016, 20 outbreaks were reported and in 2015, only one outbreak was reported in the same time period.
Symptoms include a rash on the hands and feet and sores in the mouth. It is spread by contact with saliva or mucus.
The virus is most commonly seen in children.
"If an adult does not practice good hand hygiene, an adult certainly could get it. So it's unusual, we don't see a lot of adults with it, but they can get it," Dr. Woods said.
Summer is the peak season for the virus. According to Dr. Woods, his office has seen more than 100 cases this summer.
Treatment can include over-the-counter pain medicine, steroid cream and staying away from other kids.
"Any child who has (a) fever, if they have sores on their hands that have not dried over, if they're having frequent stools or if they're highly fatigued, that's the child who should stay home. Usually after being diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease, a child is usually safe to return to school in maybe about three to five days," Dr. Woods said.
While most cases of HFMD are mild, there is a type that can lead to neurological symptoms, like seizures and persistent headaches, Dr. Woods explained, adding that the strain is rare.
View Mercy pediatrician Dr. Ashanti Woods’ interview regarding hand, foot and mouth disease.
Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.