Hand, foot and mouth disease, or vesicular stomatitis, is a common infectious disease in
children. The disease is named for the red rash that appears on the hands, feet, and mouth due to the hand,
foot, and mouth disease virus. According to the Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong enters the peak
period for hand, foot and mouth disease from May to July. Smaller outbreaks may also occur from
October to December.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is mainly spread by enteroviruses such as Coxsackie virus and Enterovirus
71. If you come into contact with respiratory secretions (including saliva, nasal mucus, and phlegm),
faeces, or fluid from the blisters of an infected person, you are at risk of infection. The incubation period for
hand, foot, and mouth disease is about three to seven days. The risk of transmission is highest in the first
seven days of infection, and the virus can be excreted in the faeces for several weeks.
Although hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in children, adults can also contract the disease. The
main adult patients of hand, foot, and mouth disease are parents whose children are infected, because they
are likely to come into contact with enterovirus-containing secretions when caring for their children or
cleaning their items (such as utensils, toys, and clothes), thereby increasing the chance of contracting the
People with hand, foot, and mouth disease generally do not have apparent symptoms, but the symptoms in
children below five years old are more severe. Therefore, hand, foot, and mouth disease symptoms mainly appear in infants and toddlers.
Patients typically have a fever and sore throat when the disease begins. A few days after the early
symptoms appear, a rash with blisters will appear in the mouth. These rashes are concentrated on the
tongue, gums, and inner cheeks. After the blisters burst, they form ulcers, which affect the patient's
swallowing and appetite. In addition to the mouth, rashes may appear on the palms, soles, buttocks,
or genitals. However, rashes outside the mouth generally do not itch and may not blister.
Complications caused by hand, foot, and mouth disease are not common, but infection with Enterovirus
71 can still trigger serious heart or brain complications, such as myocarditis, encephalitis, and viral
In light of this, if a patient with hand, foot, and mouth disease continues to display the following
symptoms, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible:
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