Parents with children who are attending preschool and child care centres often worry when their little ones fall sick due to the spread of illnesses. But the one thing that would send parents and schools on red alert mode involves the outbreak of the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD).
A common and infectious disease among infants and children under the age of 5 (although older children and adults can also be infected), HFMD is present all year round in Singapore and is known to have seasonal outbreaks. It is caused by a group of viruses which can lead to serious illness in the infected, and may even be fatal.
The best way for parents to keep their children safe from HFMD is to look out for the signs of the disease and to know what to do in the event that their children get infected.
What are the symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease?
The first signs of HFMD usually involve a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a feeling of being unwell. This is then followed by painful ulcers in the mouth, throat and tongue, rash or small blisters on the palms of hands, soles of feet or buttocks. Bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea may be present as well.
However, these symptoms may not apply for everyone. Some people may show no symptoms at all, but it is still possible to pass on the virus to others. The viruses that cause HFMD can spread through direct contact with nose and throat discharge, saliva, fluid from blisters and the stool of infected persons.
What to do if your child has HFMD?
While there is no specific vaccine for HFMD, fever and pains can be treated with medication like paracetamol syrup from your family doctor or polyclinic. Mouth ulcers can be treated with a soothing gel.
It is also important to ensure that your child drinks enough water to avoid dehydration. Do keep your child at home (and away from school, childcare centre and public places such as shopping malls) during this time to rest and recover. Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as toys and door knobs to keep the virus from spreading.
Tips to reduce the spread of HFMD
Mums and dads, you can play a part to help reduce the spread of HFMD with these simple tips:
– Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
– Avoid close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing cups and eating utensils) with people who are infected
– Maintain high hygiene standards by washing hands with soap and water. Refer to the illustrated guide below for the 8 simple steps to keep hands clean.
We hope that the facts and tips given above will help clear your doubts on HFMD, and enlighten you on the things that you can do to prevent the spread. For more information about HFMD, log on to hpb.gov.sg/infectiousdiseases.