Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease

Coshocton County General Health District

724 S. Seventh Street

Coshocton, Ohio 43812-2362


Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease


Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in infants and young children. It usually causes fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet. Most infected people recover in a week or two. Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene to reduce your risk of infection.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease, or HFMD, is a contagious illness that is caused by different viruses. It is common in infants and children younger than 5 years old, because they do not yet have immunity (protection) to the viruses that cause HFMD. However, older children and adults can also get HFMD. In the United States it is more common for people to get HFMD during spring, summer, and fall.


What Are the Symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease often include the following:

  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sore throat
  • A feeling of being unwell
  • Painful sores in the mouth that usually begin as flat red spots
  • A rash of flat red spots that may blister on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and sometimes the knees, elbows, buttocks, and/or genital area.

These symptoms usually appear in stages, not all at once. Also, not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.


Is HFMD Serious?

HFMD is usually not serious. The illness is typically mild, and nearly all people recover in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. Complications are uncommon. Rarely, an infected person can develop viral meningitis (characterized by fever, headache, stiff neck, lack of energy, sleepiness, or trouble waking up from sleep) and may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Other even more rare complications can include polio-like paralysis, or encephalitis (brain inflammation) which can be fatal.


Is HFMD Contagious?

Yes. The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in an infected person's:

  • Nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus)
  • Blister fluid
  • Feces (poop)


HFMD spreads from an infected person to others through:

  • Close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Contact with feces, for example when changing a diaper
  • Contact with blister fluid
  • Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them

People with HFMD are most contagious during the first week of their illness. However, they may sometimes remain contagious for weeks after symptoms go away. Some people, especially adults, may not develop any symptoms, but they can still spread the viruses to others. This is why you should always try to maintain good hygiene, like washing hands often with soap and water, so you can minimize your chance of getting and spreading infections.


Who Is at Risk for HFMD?

HFMD mostly affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, older children and adults can get it, too. When someone gets HFMD, they develop immunity (protection) to the specific virus that caused their infection. However, because HFMD is caused by several different viruses, people can get the disease again.


Can HFMD Be Treated?

There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Fever and pain can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It is important for people with HFMD to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).


Can HFMD Be Prevented?

There is no vaccine to protect against HFMD. However, you can reduce the risk of getting infected with the viruses that cause HFMD by following a few simple steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, and help young children do the same
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick


Is HFMD the Same as Foot-and-Mouth Disease?

No. HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which affects cattle, sheep, and swine. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.


Coshocton County General Health District 

724 S. Seventh Street

Coshocton, Ohio 43812-2362 



October 11, 2018


Dear Parent or Guardian:


Ohio is seeing an increase in cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in schools across the state. HFMD is a common viral infection that most often causes outbreaks in the summer and fall.


What are the symptoms of HFMD?

This illness generally is mild. Symptoms include tiny blisters in the mouth and on the fingers, palms of hands, buttocks, and soles of the feet. Common cold signs and symptoms with fever, sore throat, runny nose, and cough may also be present. The most upsetting symptom are the blisters in the mouth, which make it hard for the child to eat or drink. Nearly all patients recover without medical treatment in 7 to 10 days.


How is HFMD spread?

The virus is spread through coughing and sneezing, through the fluid from blisters on the hands and feet, or through contact with the infected person’s stool (feces). Children with HFMD generally do not need to be excluded from school or childcare unless the child is running a fever, has open blisters, drooling too much or is very uncomfortable and is not able to do normal school or childcare activities. HFMD is most able to be spread during the first week when mouth sores are present. The virus may be passed in the stool for several weeks, even after symptoms are gone. 


How is HFMD diagnosed and treated?

A doctor can identify HFMD by the symptoms and the look and location of the blisters. There is no specific treatment. Symptoms may be treated to provide relief from fever or pain from the mouth blisters.


How do you control the spread?

  • Make sure adults and children wash hands often and completely with warm water and soap.
  • After using the bathroom, wash hands well with warm water and soap.
  • After changing a diaper, wash both your hands and the baby’s hands with warm water and soap.
  • Teach children to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue or their arm when coughing or sneezing.
  • When using a tissue, wash hands well afterwards. Do not reuse tissues.


How do I get more information?

For more information about Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease, contact your doctor, the Coshocton County Health Department at 740-622-1426 or visit http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/



Steve Lonsinger, R.S, M.A.

Health Commissioner

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