Hand-foot-and-mouth disease: a mostly harmless childhood illness

A child sits in a high chair and eats - it has a rash around its mouth

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease predominantly affects children under ten years of age. As a rule, the viral infection is harmless. But it is very contagious. With careful hygiene, the risk of spreading the disease can be contained.

Contents at a glance

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease? ?

The hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a Infectious disease. Pathogens are the so-called enteroviruses of group A. Most commonly, the disease is caused by Coxsackie A16 viruses. Children up to the age of ten are increasingly affected, which is why the disease is also classified as a childhood diseases counts.

Since the disease is not reportable, there are only estimates of how often it occurs. According to the study, 80 people contract the disease in Germany each year.000 to 140.000 people. The proportion of asymptomatically infected persons – mostly older children and adults – is very high at more than 80 percent. That is, most do not even notice the virus.

The disease often occurs in community settings, such as day care centers and elementary schools. Most cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease occur in late summer and fall. The disease is common worldwide, but is especially common in Asia. Major outbreaks occur regularly in Malaysia, Singapore, China and Japan, among other countries. In this case, enterovirus A71 can also lead to more severe courses with pulmonary edema or impairment of the central nervous system.


Not true at all

A common rumor is that hand-foot-and-mouth disease has something to do with foot-and-mouth disease, which occurs in cattle, sheep and pigs. But these are two different diseases.

What are the symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease??

From the infection to the outbreak of the disease usually pass Three to five, rarely up to ten days (incubation period). The disease usually begins with fever, sore throat and decreased appetite. After two days appears in the mouth a painful rash with small red spots, blisters and ulcers. It affects the tongue, oral mucosa and gums.

A non-itchy rash also forms around the mouth, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Hence the name hand-foot-and-mouth disease. There may be flat or raised red spots and sometimes vesicles. Sometimes, however, the rash is found in atypical locations, such as the buttocks, genital area, knees, or elbows, and may be associated with severe itching. In atypical courses, loss of fingernails and toenails can occur. This usually occurs within four weeks after infection.

The disease usually runs its course with mild symptoms and Cures on its own after five to seven days without consequences. Anyone who has survived the disease is immune to the virus that causes it. However, since there are many different enteroviruses that can cause the disease, another disease is not completely excluded.

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