Hand foot mouth disease epidemic in Maharashtra – Unnoticed and Overlooked.
It’s a great irony that the disease, causing havoc in rural Maharashtra is largely unnoticed by the health authorities. Also, the disease running as an epidemic in children Marathwada, Vidarbha should be largely reported by media for the prevention of this disease. Hand Foot Mouth Disease, not a routine illness, in pediatrician’s OPD started coming up since the last 2 years has peaked last 6months with a gradually increasing number of cases every day. The disease is a viral self-limiting infection caused by coxsackie and enterovirus. Usually, the disease has a high incidence in winter but epidemiology seems to be changing and now we pediatricians have seen it all year round.
Symptoms of Hand Foot Mouth Disease
- Starts with fever and sore throat
- Painful blisters/ulcers appear in the throat, on palms and sole
- Ulcers in mouth and throat become painful and difficulty in swallowing hence food intake decreases causing debility
- Itching of the lesions
- Loss of appetite
The spread of Hand Foot Mouth Disease
Spread to healthy kids through touch and skin to skin contact as saliva contains the virus.
Usually affects children less than 5 years
Usually, no investigations required as the disease can be diagnosed clinically. With the information given even parents can diagnose it although expert consultation is mandatory.
Treatment of the Disease
Treatment is usually symptomatic with medicines for fever (antipyretic – paracetamol ), pain ( analgesic – ibuprofen ), a lot of fluids, multivitamin syrup, soft diet. Occasionally local antibiotic cream for blisters. Intravenous antibiotics are required only when lesions get a secondary bacterial infection.
What can the parents do to prevent their child from getting hand foot mouth disease?
- Wash your own and child’s hands very often especially when he is returning home from outdoors and school
- Maintaining good nutrition
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What can the parents of infected children do?
- Consult a pediatrician as soon as they notice ulcers and fever
- Not send the child to school during and after the illness till the rash/blisters fade off or minimum seven days after onset of rash
- Give soft diet and lot of fluids
- Wash hands after handling the child
- Limit contact with siblings and other children
- The virus remains on the surface for 8 to 10 days hence cleaning of home and surfaces with water and antiseptic is required. Also, schools may consider such cleaning of classrooms and benches when many cases appear from the same class.
What’s different in this Epidemic?
Every epidemic of disease comes with a difference in the usual symptoms of the disease. Hand foot mouth disease in this epidemic is unusually coming with blisters on buttocks and also presenting between 5 to 10 years. Even with this basic information being valuable to alleviate the fear of hand foot mouth disease among parents and for prevention of the disease, the Public health authorities have largely turned a deaf ear to the disease and Health education about it.