MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hand, foot and mouth disease is a virus, highly contagious among infants and children under the age of five. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a warning that right now is one of the worst times to look out for it as kids are back in daycare.
The virus starts with a fever and sore throat, but then a rash with blister-like sores will start to spread all over the child's hands, feet and mouth. It is very contagious and spreads through close contact, sneezing, spit, feces, or contaminated objects or surfaces. That makes this illness very easy for children to catch.
"It's very contagious – especially in daycares," says J. Vance Vandergriff, M.D., with South Strand Internists and Urgent Care. "Kids will give it to each other. The little ones don't have all of the things that we do – don't touch each other and share food and drinks. So it's very, very contagious and very common to go through schools and daycares," says Vandergriff.
Doctor say the worst part of this disease is that there is no vaccine or treatment. It just has to run its course, which could take 7 to 10 days.
There are some immediate measures daycares have to take if a child gets sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease so that it will not spread to the entire group. Local daycares in the Grand Strand say they will ask for parents to keep the sick child home until the virus runs its course. They will also notify all other parents with children at the daycare to be on high alert. Then the daycare will spend a day decontaminating everything including toys, bedding, cribs and table tops. The daycare is required by DHEC to only use a solution of water plus bleach when decontaminating for hand, foot and mouth disease.
"Don't send them to daycare or school if they have a fever or if they have any sort of a rash or any types of infection," says Vandergriff. "That way we can prevent the spread to others. It just has to run its course. And try to isolate them a little bit, keep them at home. Keep them away from any other siblings."
Doctors say it is very important to make sure your kids stay hydrated as they battle this virus, which could be difficult because sores can show up inside their mouths. If they are having a difficult time drinking, the CDC then recommends to take your child to the doctor to get an IV. Doctors say parents can also use Benadryl or a numbing mouthwash to help relieve some pain. It is also a good idea to let that child have a separate set of utensils, plates and cups to use, so no one else can get their germs.