GREENVILLE, N.C. (WCT) – There is a nationwide outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease, and doctors are reminding parents to be aware and take caution.
For local doctors, this is no surprise. The virus is highly contagious.
“It’s sporadic throughout the year, but it’s a little bit more common during the winter months because people are indoors,” said Dr. Alex Dalzell, a clinical associate professor at Brody School of Medicine specializing in pediatric infectious disease.
Dalzell has treated a lot of common viruses in children and said hand foot and mouth disease is one he has seen often.
“Not everyone gets hand, foot and mouth, but it is very common, and it actually occurs in outbreaks,” Dalzell said.
The virus spreads through physical contact or from contaminated surfaces.
It is being seen in children at daycares, normally affecting children under the age of 5. But across the country, it’s showing up even on college campuses.
“Let’s say in daycare situations children like to put things in their mouth, so they put things in their mouth and get saliva in their toys,” Dalzell said. “Another child may come by, and I don’t care how good you are in a daycare situation, you can go behind a child and clean up literally everything”
Symptoms resemble signs of the common cold, such as a fever, runny nose and sore throat. But then blisters start showing up.
The blisters can be found either on the palms of hands, feet or inside of your mouth.
“Most people get it very mildly,” said Dalzell. “You just see it. You see the blisters. They say ‘Mommy it hurts.’ They may not eat or drink well.”
There is no treatment for the virus, but if there are signs of blisters in your mouth it could be so painful that you can become dehydrated.
It’s “very uncomfortable, very sublimated,” said Dalzell. “It usually goes away in about five to 10 days.”
9OYS reached out to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human services, and they said hand, foot and mouth disease is not a required reportable disease under public health law. While cases do exist here in North Carolina, no outbreaks of the disease have been reported to their office in 2016.