Doctors warn of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease as states see spikes

Hand, foot, and mouth disease spike

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Doctors in several states around the country are pointing to an increase in cases of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.

Here in South Carolina, DHEC shared numbers from previous outbreaks. They say between 2015 and 2017, there were approximately 17 to 30 outbreaks each year.

So far in 2018, 15 have been reported in the state.

DHEC says the virus usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old.

Doctors say it's important to understand that as an adult, you can be affected and spread the virus.

"In adults, we just seem to see less symptoms. When you're talking about the kids and the disease, you're looking at ulcers and spots in the mouth, hands and feet," Providence Health Doctor Dr. Elizabeth LeBel said. "Most adults are asymptomatic, or minimally symptomatic, so they're actually passing the virus along and have no clue that they're infected."

LeBel says when the virus is contracted, it takes 3 to 7 days to develop symptoms. She adds over 3 to 7 more day is usually the time-period when you are highly contagious. She says some of the virus may linger for weeks after the symptoms subside.

To lessen your risk, DHEC recommends washing your hands often and regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces or soiled items.

They also say children who have the virus should be excluded from school or child care while symptoms of fever or excessive drooling are present.

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