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Health Tip: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

It's a common childhood viral infection

(HealthDay News) -- Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common in babies and children under age 10, but it can also affect adults.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is not at all related to foot-and-mouth disease that occurs in farm animals. The condition in people is caused by a virus, and can be passed from person to person via direct contact with contaminated saliva, feces or nasal discharge.

Symptoms usually include fever, rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and mouth sores. The first signs are usually red, painful sores on the tongue, cheeks or gums that blister. The skin rash appears as blisters or flat red bumps, but they typically aren't itchy. HFMD can be diagnosed with a throat culture or fecal sample, but doctors also can diagnose the disease without those tests.

Since HFMD is caused by a virus, there is no treatment. The CDC recommends preventing its spread by thoroughly washing hands after coming into contact with an exposed child, particularly after changing a diaper. As the disease is easily spread in child care settings, the CDC also suggests regularly washing shared toys in a disinfecting solution.

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