schoolyard sharing isn’t limited to toys or knowledge; the sharing of germs and infectious diseases is something that runs rampant through most school districts..
While you might be accustomed to keeping your child safe from chicken pox, lice, or the common cold, there are other types of illnesses that can be lurking around your child. Often these unknown disease are significantly more difficult to prevent, unlike older ailments. This is probably one of a parents’ worst fears.
One of the most resistant of these illnesses is hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which still affects about 200,000 Americans in the USA every year.
This year could be a record-breaking one for the disease, warned experts at the West Central Health District in Georgia. Already there have been outbreaks among school kids and college students alike.
So what is hand-foot-mouth disease? How can you contract it and, more importantly, how can you recover from it?
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease — or HFMD for short — is an incredibly common ailment that affects hundred of thousands of people every single year. It’s highly contagious, and can spread easily from contact with saliva or mucus.
While you can’t get it from simply being in the same room as an infected individual, but you can get it from a sneeze, a kiss, or a handshake.
This would explain why HFMD is so common among little kids (who are usually less health-conscious and tend to grab at one another) and college students (who have a tendency to share drinks and have lowered immune systems due to exhaustion.) Senior citizens with lower immune systems, especially those in a nursing home of some sort, also have a heightened risk of contracting the disease.
The best indication that you have HFMD are itchy red spots appearing on (shocker) your hands, feet, and mouth. Though the symptoms of the virus are usually mild, there can be serious side effects, especially for those people with weakened immune systems.
In some rare cases, HFMD can even lead to serious brain infections like meningitis and encephalitis. More commonly, kids who don’t shake the symptoms for a few weeks may lose some of their fingernails or toenails.
Once you notice the dots on your child or yourself, go to the doctor immediately. They may not be able to miraculously heal you right away, however. They’ll most likely tell you to quarantine whoever is ill until the virus has worked its way out of your system, so you don’t infect someone in your community.
According to the CDC, outbreaks of HFMD are not common in the USA, but that might be changing this year after a large outbreak swept through Georgia. The wider South Eastern US may also be affect, and the disease could even spread to other regions of the country.
If you happen to live in an area affected by this year’s HFMD outbreak, it’s important to be extremely vigilant about hygiene practices. Make sure everyone in your family is washing their hands after leaving the bathroom, and before touching any food. And if you suspect HFMD, make sure to keep your kids home from school until they have been cleared by a doctor.