Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common but highly contagious infection in children caused by enteroviruses, including coxsackieviruses. While generally a mild illness, some children will have fever, sore throat and tiredness and blisters which can be uncomfortable. It mainly occurs in children under 10 years of age but can also occur in older children and adults. It is not related to the foot and mouth disease that affects animals.
Good hygiene is the best protection:
Your doctor can diagnose hand, foot and mouth disease based on the symptoms. Laboratory tests are not usually necessary.
Signs that an infant or older child might have a more serious form of hand, foot and mouth disease include any of the following:
If any of these signs are present then the child should be seen by a doctor urgently even if they have been checked earlier in the illness.
Blisters in the mouth may also make it painful for children to swallow fluids. If a child continues to refuse fluids by mouth they should also be seen by a doctor.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is not notifiable under the Public Health Act. However, to help prevent spread parents should report the illness to the director of the childcare centre or the school principal.
For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.