By Kim Deykes
HFMD has been prevalent in the Midwest this summer and fall. It is important that parents have all the facts.
How Do You Get HFMD?
You do not get HFMD from animals; it is not the same thing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HFMD is caused by several different viruses–Enterovirus 71 and Coxsackievirus A 16. People who have had it can get it again, although this is rare. It is also rare for an adult to get HFMD because they have the antibodies from previous viral infections. HFMD is kind of a sleeper virus. You can have it and not know. Adults can have and spread the virus without ever showing symptoms. So if you are a parent around a child with HFMD, you should be careful around other children or the elderly.
The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in:
- Nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus)
- Blister fluid
- Poop (feces)
HFMD spreads from an infected person to others from:
- Close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils
- Coughing and sneezing
- Contact with poop, for example when changing a diaper
- Contact with blister fluid
- Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them
This is why you should always try to maintain good hygiene, like washing hands often with soap and water, to reduce your chance of getting and spreading HFMD. The CDC urges parents to wash their hands especially after changing diapers. Your children should be helped to wash their hands as well. Do not share anything that comes into contact with your mouth, this includes kisses. Keep toys and surfaces in your house disinfected.
Pulling your child out of school or daycare is a must and at least for week. Your child should be fever and symptom-free before returning to daycare or school.
How Do You Treat HFMD?
Unfortunately HFMD like other viruses cannot be treated. Your goal should be to lessen the symptoms and to make your child feel more comfortable. WebMD suggests over-the-counter pain relievers (do not use aspirin) and numbing mouth sprays. You can use cold treats and foods like popsicles to help soothe a sore throat. To help ease skin irritation parents can prepare salt water rinses and gargles. Gargles = ½ teaspoon salt to 1 cup warm water.
Take your child to the doctor if they become dehydrated.
HFMD and Pregnancy
If you are pregnant and caring for a child with HFMD, it is rare that it will result in a negative outcome; however, you should immediately let your doctor know. Should a pregnant woman contract HFMD it can result in an abortion in an early pregnancy, and if it is contracted close to delivery, mom can pass it to the infant. Again this is rare and usually mild.
HFMD and Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding your infant and you also have an older child with HFMD, keep breastfeeding. You cannot spread the virus through your breast milk. Studies show that exclusive breastfeeding (only feeding breast milk) can shield your infant from getting HFMD as well as other viral infections.
Ameda strives to present you with accurate and useful breastfeeding information. This article may contain information and ideas that are not necessarily the views of Ameda. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have any questions please contact your healthcare professional.