Kids in child care are es­pe­cially prone to get­ting Hand, Foot and Mouth Dis­ease (HFMD). Find out how to pro­tect your lit­tle ones from this con­ta­gious dis­ease.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Kids in child­care are prone this con­ta­gious dis­ease, but here’s what you can do to pre­vent and man­age it.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Dis­ease is some­thing you'll be­come very fa­mil­iar with when your kid en­ters preschool, as chil­dren there are es­pe­cially prone to catch­ing it. Young Par­ents finds out more about this hot-topic ill­ness with help from the Min­istry of Health’s (MOH’s) web­site and Pro­fes­sor Paul Anan­thara­jah Tam­byah, se­nior con­sul­tant in­fec­tious dis­eases physi­cian at the Na­tional Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal. 1What is HFMD?

It is a com­mon child­hood vi­ral in­fec­tion caused by a group of in­testi­nal viruses called en­teroviruses. The most com­mon cul­prit is the Cox­sackie virus and, on rarer oc­ca­sions, En­terovirus 71. While both adults and kids can be af­fected, young chil­dren – par­tic­u­larly those un­der the age of five – are more sus­cep­ti­ble. 2 How does HFMD spread?

The ill­ness is trans­mit­ted through di­rect con­tact with the nasal dis­charge, saliva, fae­ces or from the blis­ters of an in­fected per­son. In a preschool set­ting, this oc­curs when the saliva of one child is passed to an­other through shared toys or other com­mon ob­jects, and sur­faces such as door­knobs. 3 What hap­pens if my child is in­fected?

De­vel­op­ing a fever, poor ap­petite and a sore throat are the usual be­gin­ning in­di­ca­tors. Small, painful spots will ap­pear in the mouth a day or two later, which of­ten turn into ul­cers. A rash will also erupt on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and de­velop into painful blis­ters. Other symp­toms may in­clude vom­it­ing or di­ar­rhoea.

HFMD can last any­where from two days to two weeks, though the av­er­age in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod usu­ally ranges from three to five days. 4 What treat­ment will my child's doc­tor pre­scribe? There is no vac­cine for HFMD at the mo­ment. An­tibi­otics are also not ef­fec­tive in treat­ing it, though your doc­tor may pre­scribe med­i­ca­tion for fever, pain relief or to soothe the itch­ing.

It’s best to make sure that your child gets lots of rest, and that she drinks a lot of flu­ids.

If her mouth ul­cers bother her too much, try switch­ing her to a soft diet of por­ridge or pureed fruit in­stead. 5 Can it lead to more se­vere com­pli­ca­tions? Most of the time, HFMD is a mild ill­ness that lasts only a few days. There have been rare cases in which the heart or brain is af­fected, how­ever, such in­ci­dences are around one in 20,000 to 40,000. Cit­ing MOH data, Prof Tam­byah as­sures that no lo­cal cases of se­vere com­pli­ca­tions oc­curred in 2012 de­spite there be­ing 37,000 re­ported cases. 6 How long will my child be con­ta­gious?

Ac­cord­ing to the MOH’s web­site, chil­dren are most con­ta­gious for the du­ra­tion of the ill­ness. How­ever, the virus may linger in your child’s stool for sev­eral weeks af­ter the in­fec­tion is gone, so it is im­por­tant to con­tinue im­ple­ment­ing a good hy­giene rou­tine. 7 What should I do if there's an out­break of HFMD in my child's preschool? Child­care cen­tres, kinder­gartens and schools are re­quired to re­port any HFMD out­breaks to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. Those that have a trans­mis­sion pe­riod of over 24 days with a num­ber of cases greater than 16 or higher than 23 per cent are re­quired to close for 10 days. Check MOH’s web­site for reg­u­lar up­dates on the HFMD sit­u­a­tion in child­care cen­tres and kinder­gartens.

Ac­cord­ing to a GP, the dis­ease tends to come in waves, he said in a news re­port. If your child catches HFMD, keep her at home un­til the doc­tor gives the green light for her to re­turn to school. And if her preschool re­ports a case in her class, you may choose to keep her at home for pre­cau­tion­ary rea­sons. 8 What are some good pre­ven­tion meth­ods? One sim­ple step is to have your child wash her hands with soap and wa­ter af­ter han­dling toys or play­ing with friends, be­fore and af­ter eat­ing, be­fore and af­ter us­ing the re­stroom, and af­ter touch­ing some­thing dirty. Also rou­tinely clean high-touch sur­faces, es­pe­cially in the kitchen and bath­room.

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