According to the CDC, hand, foot and mouth disease, or HFMD, is “a contagious illness caused by different viruses.” It’s not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep and swine — not humans.
The CDC says typical symptoms of HFMD include fever, mouth sores and a skin rash. The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in an infected person’s nose and throat secretions, blister fluid or feces.
Doctors are seeing outbreaks of HFMD in multiple states, including Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The CDC says it’s common in infants and kids younger than 5 because they don’t have immunity to the viruses that cause HFMD. The most common cause of HFMD in the U.S. is coxsackievirus A16, but the CDC says other coxsackieviruses can also cause the illness.
Older children and adults can also get it — New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and New York Yankees starter J.A. Happ have been diagnosed with HFMD.
How does HFMD spread from an infected person to others?
- Close contact — like kissing, hugging or sharing cups and eating utensils
- Coughing and sneezing
- Coming in contact with feces, such as when changing a diaper
- Contact with blister fluid
- Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them
HFMD is usually not serious, and most people recover within 7 to 10 days without medical treatment.
The CDC advises that to help reduce the chances of getting or spreading HFMD, always try to maintain good hygiene, including washing hands often with soap and water.