Doctor: Foot, mouth disease on rise

Published 1:33 am Friday, August 3, 2018

\ Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is on the rise in Covington County. Local pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang said that he is seeing five to six cases daily.

Bang said that HFMD usually occurs in children younger than five years old, but there is a new atypical strain of the viral illness that could infect all ages, even adults.

Covington County is not the only place with a rise in the virus; Bang said that the state of Alabama and the entire nation have seen an increase in cases.

“We are starting to see a lot more atypical cases,” Bang said. “They are a lot harder to treat and are highly contagious.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, the new strain was first reported in the United States in November 2011. Since then, multiple cases have been reported in several states.

Bang said that there is no treatment for HFMD, other than making sure the patient is hydrated and comfortable.

CBS News reported this week that doctors are seeing outbreaks in Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. And two Major League Baseball players in New York City have also been diagnosed with the disease.

“Generally there are no severe problems with HFMD other than skin rashes and problems with the mucous membranes,” Bang said. “It usually lasts a week, and lesions are usually found more on the hands than the feet. The buttocks are also commonly affected.”

Bang said that the virus usually appears during the summer and fall months.

“It usually is more common during the months where the kids are going back to school,” Bang said. “So parents need to be aware of this and prepare for it.”

HFMD is very contagious and is transmitted through direct contact, Bang said.

“I can’t stress enough just how contagious this virus is,” Bang said. “And with the atypical strain, adults can get infected now. It is transmitted through contact with saliva, respiratory secretions, bodily fluid and feces.”

Bang said that the best way to fight the virus is to always practice sanitary hand washing.

“The biggest thing is to make sure to wash your hands,” Bang said. “Also make sure to use disinfectant on all utensils. If your child has already been infected with the virus, make sure to stay out of public places, daycare and school.”

Parents and patients should follow the following tips on how to prevent the spread of HFMD, according to Bang:

  • Cover coughs.
  • Wash hands often, especially after diaper changes.
  • Disinfect dirty surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing and sharing eating utensils and cups with infected persons.