Hand-foot-mouth disease, a common virus affecting mostly young children, hit its peak in Callaway County about a month ago, Callaway County Health Director Sharon Lynch said Thursday.
"Like all viruses, hand-foot-mouth disease tends to run in cycles. It strikes mainly in schools and in daycare centers around young children," Lynch said.
Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) is spread through contact of oral secretions to another person's mouth or from fecal secretion to a person's mouth.
HFMD usually is spread from a child not washing his hands after going to a bathroom and then touching something that other children touch or put into their mouth.
Even adults can catch the disease. Lynch said it is possible for HFMD to be spread at a drinking fountain.
HFMD also can be spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.
"It's not a disease that must be reported in the United States. But it is very common and comes and goes," Lynch said.
The illness is contagious and children under age 10 are most likely to be infected.
Childcare centers and schools are big spreaders of the disease.
The first symptoms are a fever and flu-like symptoms. Sores typically develop in the mouth. A few days later a rash or blisters form on the palms of hands, soles of the feet or buttocks.
Blisters may pop and those secretions also can transmit the virus.
HFMD is usually spotted first when there is a fever followed by a sore on the throat.
Like a common cold, there is no cure other than treatment of the symptoms.
To control the fever, young children should not be given aspirin. Instead they can be given acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Lynch said in order to protect against the disease people should wash their hands often, especially after changing diapers.