Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome is an infectious disease that, in most cases, is caused by the coxsackie virus A16. The disease most often occurs in young children and is characterized by a rash of small blister-like sores (lesions). The rash usually occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and in the mouth.
Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome is an infectious disease characterized by blister-like sores (lesions) that appear on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and in the mouth. The lesions in the mouth most commonly affect the lining of the cheeks (buccal mucosa), tongue, lips, and hard palate. The lesions occasionally may appear on the buttocks, extremities or genitals. Lesions may group together and eventually ulcerate. Symptoms may also include a sore throat, headache, low-grade fever, vomiting, loss of appetite or refusal to eat due to the lesions in the mouth, especially those on the cheek and tongue. The symptoms of the disease last for about one week.
In most cases, the Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome is not associated with serious complications. However, according to the medical literature, some cases of the disease caused by enterovirus 71 have been associated with the accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and neurological complications such as mild inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround the brain (aseptic meningitis).
The principal cause of Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome is believed to be the coxsackie virus A16. However, some cases have been described that were caused by the coxsackie virus A4, A5, A7, A9, A10, B2, and B5 and by enterovirus 71.
Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome is affects males and females in equal numbers. The disease is most common in young children and is seen more frequently in the summer and fall. The disorder is contagious.
The diagnosis of Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome maybe confirmed by a thorough clinical evaluation and a detailed patient history. Several tests may be conducted to analyze the liquid portion of the blood (serum) to determine which type of virus is present in a particular cause of Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome (serological tests).
There is no specific treatment for Hand-Foot-Mouth syndrome. Calamine lotion may have a soothing effect on the rash and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), given every 4 hours, will help reduce the fever and headache. Aspirin should NOT be given to children with viral diseases, because it can cause Reye Syndrome. (For more information on this disorder, choose “Reye” as your search term in the Rare Disease Database.) Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.
According to the medical literature, some affected individuals have been treated with the anti-viral drug acyclovir. More studies are needed to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of this drug for the treatment of Hand-Foot-Mouth Syndrome.
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