A spike in cases of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) has been reported in the city. The self-limiting but highly contagious viral disease is taking a toll on the well-being of infants and children. The city paediatricians are witnessing seven to eight cases daily in outpatient departments (OPD).
The incubation period for HFMD is around two to seven days. It spreads through direct contact, respiratory secretions, saliva and stools of infected kids. Doctors said HFMD is treated as per the symptoms as some might have a few blisters while others might have more. Fever and mouth ulcers, too, are observed in some cases.
HFMD is a common viral infection caused mostly by coxsackievirus A16, enterovirus 71 that tends to spread through skin-to-skin contact, cough, and sneezing. The virus can cause rashes on the child's hands, feet, and mouth, along with oral ulcers in some cases. The duration of the disease is around a week. It spreads because of the nose and throat discharges, and even the saliva of an infected child or after touching contaminated surfaces or things. The symptoms include fever, sore throat, malaise, loss of appetite, and red blister-like lesions around or inside the mouth, palms, soles, hands, feet and sometimes buttocks. The child may also suffer from headaches and be irritable.
“There are increased number of cases this year, as compared to the last three years. These cases are common in toddlers and preschool-age children. It has been seen in both boys and girls. Initially, children with exposure to daycare centres and playgroups were affected more as they have increased contact with each other in a closed environment. However, in the current phase, we are also seeing infections in all young children, irrespective of whether they are attending preschool,” said Dr Suresh Birajdar, neonatologist & paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar. Dr Birajdar added that HFMD cases peak during the monsoons as there is an increased spread of the virus during this weather.
Dr Nitin Shah, consultant paediatric haemoto-oncologist, PD Hinduja Hospital & MRC (Mahim) said they are seeing at least six to seven cases each day in the OPD for HFMD. “It usually occurs in children below seven years but can occur in older children too. These are school-going children who contract it from other infected children. It is caused by enterovirus, usually type 6 virus,” he said, adding that infected children usually get lesions and fluid-filled vesicular rashes typically on the hands, feet, forearms and ankles. However, these do not occur on the neck trunk and face, which is how it is differentiated from chickenpox.
“Mouth sores and ulcers are seen on the palate and this makes it difficult for children to eat and swallow food. The rashes on the hands and feet are not painful or itchy. Usually, there are no complications, the incubation period is four to five days. Hygiene should be taken care of as it can otherwise lead to secondary infections. It is highly contagious so a lot of children get affected. It can reoccur, but serious infections affecting the brain are not seen in India. Treatment includes anti-allergic medicines and ointments, with the lesions usually disappearing in five to six days,” he said.
A senior doctor from a civic-run hospital said there is no need to panic as the disease is a mild, self-limiting disease with no significant adverse effects or prolonged symptoms. “It is a well-known and established disease entity with frequent outbreaks and can be prevented through isolation of affected individuals,” she said.
Know all about the disease:
Highest HFMD cases in 4 years
Hospitals seeing 7-8 fresh cases daily
How it spreads
Skin-to-skin contact, cough, sneezing, contact with contaminated surfaces
Fever, sore throat, malaise, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, red blister-like lesions around or inside the mouth, palms, soles, hands, feet & sometimes buttocks
Isolation of infected child, anti-allergic medicines and ointments