Morning Rounds: Hand, foot and mouth disease

NORFOLK, Va. - Cases of hand, foot and mouth disease are spreading at local daycare centers, and even among college students and adults.

News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light explained how to prevent it -- and survive it -- on News 3 This Morning.

"The early signs and symptoms are like most viruses with fever and generalized body aches or fatigue," said Dr. Light.  "We often then see sore throat and blisters in the mouth followed by a rash on the hands and feet."

"In toddlers we can see loss of appetite and irritability secondary to painful lesions in the mouth," he explained.  "The rash on the hands and feet usually presents with red bumps that are not itchy or painful. Sometimes blisters can form."

Dr. Light said the disease is easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets, kissing or sharing drinks.  The infected person, he said, can transmit the disease for seven to 14 days after symptoms have resolved.

While the virus most commonly affects children under the age of 5, Dr. Light stressed that anyone with a compromised immune system can be susceptible.

"The treatment of the disease is symptomatic relief of the oral blisters, fevers and body aches," said Dr. Light, who explained that the disease lasts from seven to 10 days.  He recommended acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and mouthwash or oral sprays to numb the painful oral lesions.  He warned parents to avoid giving their children aspirin due to the risk of Reye's syndrome.  He said seek medical care if you are unable to stay well-hydrated, unsure of the diagnosis, or for further advice.

As for keeping hand, foot and mouth disease at bay, Dr. Light said good hand hygiene is the best option.

"Avoid hugs and kisses and drinking after anyone who has had symptoms," he continued.  "Keep in mind that the virus still spreads up to 14 days after symptoms resolve."