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The Playground Danger That's on the Rise Again

author image Hoku Krueger
Hoku Krueger recently graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature Studies and a minor in French Language Studies. During her time there she wrote for the Occidental Weekly and interned with The Maui News.
The Playground Danger That's on the Rise Again
Doctors are urging parents to look out for symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which is on the rise this flu season. Photo Credit: phanuwatnandee/Adobe Stock

Called hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), this bizarre-sounding illness is currently on the rise again. Usually targeting children younger than 5 years old, its making its way through preschools and day care centers, but's also being found on college campuses. That’s right, millennials, listen up.

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Pediatricians are urging parents to look out for signs of HFMD, a painful, flu-like illness that’s on this rise this winter. This highly contagious infection causes symptoms similar to the common cold, including fever, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting.

But what really makes this disease a doozy is the little red spots that appear in the mouth, on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet (hence the name). They develop into painful blisters, according to Texas News Channel 10. The blisters might also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.

One doctor said that he’s seen more cases this year than anytime in his 21 years as a pediatrician.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that young children who develop HFMD might get dehydrated if painful sores prevent them from being able to swallow enough liquids.

“It is OK to use pain medication, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, for the pain to keep them drinking,” pediatrician Amanda Griffin tells Texas News Channel 10. Symptoms usually take three to six days to show up. Be sure to keep your child (or yourself) home if you start to feel icky.

“Once the virus gets in any setting, it can get passed around, and most commonly that would be in a day care setting because younger children typically are the ones we think about getting this,” Griffin says. But, since adults can get it too, there have been outbreaks on college campuses, she says.

The illness usually runs its course in about a week, leaving nothing behind but a bad taste in your mouth (not literally). Though there are no specific vaccines or treatments for HFMD, doctors can recommend medicines like Tylenol to treat the symptoms.

You can help prevent this nasty virus from spreading by washing your hands with soap and water frequently, regularly cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces and avoiding close contact or shared utensils and cups with people who have HFMD.

So even though it’s cuddling season, consider for a moment how you’d look with mouth blisters and just keep your distance.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you ever heard of this illness? What steps do you take to avoid getting sick? Let us know in the comments section!

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