Home > Family > Oh my God, we’ve contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth disease!!!

Oh my God, we’ve contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth disease!!!


Julia went to the doctor’s yesterday after banging her head on the coffee table and was told that although the injury was luckily nothing beyond having a black-eye, she’d somehow contracted Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.

When I heard that, I hurriedly looked it up online. Of course, I imediately thought she’d contracted Foot and Mouth disease, and wondered if the lamb in the curry I’d eaten last weekend – and subsequently given an insistant Julia a little taste of – was entirely dead at the time of consumption or not.

Then I read that foot and mouth is nigh on impossible to catch from food… hmm…

Of course, a few minutes of Wikipedia and British Medical Journal referencing later, I realised that the two: hand, foot and mouth disease and foot and mouth disease are completely unrelated.

I won’t shock you into donating money to charity – or at least put you off your food – with photos of the poor afflicted souls (actually, there’d not be much to see) so I’ll show you a picture of the trend-lines instead.

One of the things I always like to do when I learn about a disease or phenomenon for the first time is plot it out on Google Trends. This very nicely shows just how worried people are about something.

Hand Foot and Mouth Search Trends
Yup, pretty worried

I found out that people are so worried about it they’ve started using the abbreviated term as of March, 2008.


It didn’t take long from the formation of the abbreviated term to my personal contraction of said ailment.

In order to put an end to your obvious and kind concerns for our health, dear readers, I can assure you once and for all that under normal circumstances, this disease in not life threatening.

I had thought that something was amiss last week when I started getting slight prickly sensations in the palm of my hands and fingers here and there, only noticeable when I picked something up or accidentally brushed the affected areas. At first I assumed that I’d somehow got little splinters in my fingers – I’d packed a load of cardboard up for disposal a couple of days before. I looked closely at each affected spot but could see nothing.

A few days later, different parts of my hands felt like they had splinters in them and the original ones had gone and there was definite tiny, almost invisible hard pimples here and there.

I started thinking that I had dry skin, Tomoko the optimist 😉 immediately said it was probably Gout… I don’t know why that particular one sprang into mind.

I tried putting cream on my hands and the problem seemed to go away after a couple of days.

Then, yesterday morning, for the first time I noticed a couple of little red spots on the backs of my hands. Just a couple. Tiny little red dots with pale white rings around them. Insects I thought… But I never get bitten by insects, not in spring anyway… still, not being the sleuthiest inspectorate on the block, I didn’t put two and two together.

Then Tomoko phoned me with Julia’s prognosis: HFMD.

And due to their immature immune systems, children suffer a lot worse than adults. Last night, Julia’s temperature went up to nearly 40C! And this morning, her hands were covered in red patches.

As for myself, I now have a sore throat and felt tired last night. That’s about it.

Typical symptoms include:

  • High Fever
  • Unsettled stomach and headache
  • Loss of apetite
  • Sore throat
  • Red splotches which may turn into small blisters on palms of hands and fingers.
  • Same on feet.
  • Sometimes around the mouth, too… Hence the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.

Except for the spots on the hands, the symptoms are mildly flu-like.

It is an infection caused by Coxsackie A virus or Enterovirus 71 (EV71). There is no direct cure or treatment for the illness and it must be left to run its full course.

  • Anitbiotics offer no help and are generally not administered (Although, if you live in Japan, you will receive complimentary antibiotics even if you visit a doctor with the flu – It’s part of their being polite!)
  • Fever lowering treatment may be administered, headache tables and throat remedies may help.
  • Creams and ointments to stop the itching and discomfort caused by the blsters and sores may be applied.
  • Gargling with saltwater can help stop additional infections.

There’s a bit of a HFMD epedemic in Asia at the moment with tens of thousands of Asia mainland children affected. It looks like Japan has it, too.

I’ll keep you posted.

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