Health department seeing uptick in hand, foot and mouth disease

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Flathead County is currently experiencing an increase in reports of hand, foot and mouth disease in the

community, schools and daycare facilities, the health department is saying.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood viral illness that is usually seen in the summer and fall, but

can happen anytime throughout the year. The disease has an incubation period of three to five days.

The virus is spread to susceptible children by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from

blisters, or the stool of infected persons. The disease is characterized by small fluid-filled lesions or blisters. The blisters are found on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and inside the mouth. Lesions may also be found

on the buttocks, knees, or elbows.

A child infected by the virus may initially have a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and feel generally unwell.

One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores develop in the mouth. Most often, the child will exhibit

discomfort from the mouth blisters and no treatment will be needed, although some children will become

dehydrated if they are unable to swallow enough liquids due to painful mouth sores. The skin lesions will resolve

in three to five days. If the symptoms worsen, or the child has symptoms of another illness, the child should be seen by their health care provider.

The health department recommends that all families with younger children ensure they are practicing thorough

hand washing practices. In addition, if your child has been ill clean contaminated surfaces and soiled items first

with soap and water, and then disinfect them using a dilute solution of chlorine-containing bleach (made by

mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach with 4 cups of water.) If the child is not running a fever and not showing signs of a

more serious illness, he/she may remain in the school or daycare facility, at the discretion of the facility.

For futher guidance/questions, please call the Flathead City-County Health Department at 751-8110.

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