In the process of nurturing our child, we need to ensure that our child keep away from dangerous diseases. One parent called me the other day that her son was infected by Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) recently. She told me that her son was infected after playing in the swimming pool in his kindergarten. Therefore, I did some researches to gather more information for parents and childcare centers to take precaution steps to protect our children from the awful diseases. In fact, many of us do not have any idea about HFMD! I hope the information will guide you in nurturing your child safely and healthily.

HFMD is highly CONTAGIOUS! It can be fatal in some cases. Childcare center might have to stop operating for investigation if there are many cases of HFMD reported. My dear readers, this is a very serious matter!

HFMD is caused by intestinal viruses and normally attacks children below 10 years old. The virus transmits from person to person via direct contact with the mucus, saliva, fluid from blisters, feces or stools from infected person.

Signs and symptoms that we should watch out are :

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • malaise
  • sore throat
  • painful oral lesions or ulcers usually appear on tongue, sides of cheeks, gums or near the throat
  • non-itchy body rashes appear on buttocks, legs and arms
  • sores with blisters on palms of hands and soles of the feet
  • loss of appetite

A child who is infected will begin with mild fever, poor appetite, malaise and sore throat. After one or two days, painful sores develop in mouth. You may detect red spots that blister and then become ulcers in the mouth. Rashes also starts to develop on whole body with flat or raised red spots. The incubation period takes about 3 to 7 days. Mild disease recovers within 7 to 10 days. However, minority sufferers require hospital admission resulting from neurological complication which can lead to fatal.

When your child is having slight fever, please do look out for the symptoms. If not, quickly consult your doctor to give the best treatment for your child. The mother that I mentioned earlier was so busy with her work only to find out 3 days later when the son complaint to her that there’s water on his palm. I’m pretty upset with this incident, don’t you? No matter how busy you are, take a little time to monitor your child! Time yourself! Ensure your child takes enough liquid throughout this period to avoid dehydration.

Prevention is always better then cure, so here are the steps :

  1. Practice good hand washing technique and good personal hygiene. I would recommend parents to find out if the childcare center/kindergarten is using soaps and hand towels to wash and wipe their child’s hands. If yes, ensure the towels are changed as frequent as possible. For hygiene purposes, I would recommend centers to replace them with paper towels and hand wash liquids. Before you send your child to them, find out all these basic details. Do not rely on just the caregivers/ teachers on training your child to wash hands properly. Teach your child at home the proper hand washing techniques. Good habits begin at home.
  2. Maintain the cleanliness of house, childcare center and kindergarten by wiping and disinfecting the surroundings. Children love to put toys in their mouth when they are playing, therefore, make sure the toys are disinfect properly.
  3. Avoid crowded places such as shopping centers, cinemas, swimming pools, markets or bus station.
  4. Track HFMD cases in your child’s childcare center or kindergarten regularly. This way you are actually helping other parents as well. When you ask frequently about HFMD, you are prompting the center to take precaution steps as they know you are very concern about the matter. You are just trying to protect your child as well as others from the negligence of the center.
  5. Caregivers or teachers have to be alert on signs and symptoms among the children. If a child is having fever for instance, do look for other symptoms like rashes or red spots. Contact the parents to bring the child concern to clinic. Separate the child from others for prevention. A caregivers must be stationed with the child to monitor his temperature as well as accompanies the child.

For more information, you can check out http://www.sarawak.health.gov.my/hfmd.htm. I hope the above information help you have a better understanding of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and take action to protect our child and nurture our child from danger.

Health and Personal Care