The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County has received reports of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in two childcare centers in the community. While this illness is generally not serious, HFMD, a virus, is highly contagious, common in children under 5 years old and spreads quickly through in-person contact, respiratory droplets, and contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.
The Health Department is not disclosing the names of the two child care centers, which are licensed, non-home-based centers.
Typical symptoms of the disease include:
- Fever and flu-like symptoms including sore throat, eating or drinking less, and generally not feeling well.
- Mouth sores that can appear one to two days after a fever starts. These sores usually start in the back of the throat and appear as small red dots. They may become painful blisters.
- Skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. A rash can also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area.
“The rash usually looks like flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters.,” the Centers for Disease Control states. “Fluid in the blister and the resulting scab that forms as the blister heals may contain the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease.” The disease is transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes near someone else, touches someone else–kissing, hugging–shares utensils or toys, or touches such common surfaces as door knobs. The disease is most common in summer and fall but can happen year-round.
There is no vaccine for HFMD.
If you begin to see signs and symptoms of the virus, please keep your child home from school and childcare. Most cases will resolve at home with supportive care and minimal medical treatment in seven to 10 days, but you should see a healthcare provider if your child:
- Has a weakened immune system,
- Experiences a fever for more than three days,
- Has symptoms that become severe or do not improve within ten days,
- Is under six months old, and
- Cannot stay hydrated.
There are complications, but they are very rare. Steps you can take to minimize the spread include washing hands frequently, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched/shared items like toys and doorknobs, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.