Hand, foot and mouth disease on rise among City children

There has been a drastic increase in the number of children suffering from foot-hand-and-mouth disease in the past three months.

Paediatricians say that on an average, they have been seeing over 70 cases each month. “The foot-hand-and-mouth disease is not as severe in humans as it is in animals,” explained paedeiatrician Dr Manjunath Sharma. The contagious disease is caused when children get exposed to Enterovirus or 71 Coxsackie virus. The typical symptoms are mild fever, sore throat and skin lesions. “We see small rashes mostly on the hands, feet and in the mouth,” he said. These would be itchy and not painful. The disease spreads mostly through saliva when children share food and come in close contact with infected persons.

Self-limiting

It is a self-limiting disease and does not need much medication unless the case is severe, paediatrician and neonatologist Dr Karthik Nagesh said. “In rare cases, we see secondary bacterial infections and it is in such cases that medicines are prescribed,” he added.

There are no restrictions on diet except that those with ulcers in the mouth due to rashes will not be able to consume spicy food, he said. There is a noticeable increase in the number of cases when schools reopen, doctors said.

The number went up from June to August, and now, there is an increase again as children returned  to school after Dasara vacation, Dr Karthik said. Usually, children below one year of age and those around the age of five are most susceptible, said Vani Vilas Hospital senior paediatrician Dr Asha Benakappa.

There is an increase in the disease usually when schools reopen after holidays as children come in contact with others of their age.

Asha explained that children would be usually put on paracetamol and given soothing creams. However, there would be a need to apply antibiotic creams if symptoms persist, she added. The only way to identify the disease is through clinical examination. “There are no tests as such to confirm the existence of this virus. Only by observing the symptoms, we understand that there is a possibility of the disease,” she said. 

The possibility of the virus affecting adults is less. Those who remain unaffected in childhood have a chance of getting it, according to doctors.

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