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Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)
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Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)

Last update: 2022-06-07

Key facts

Transmission

  • Direct contact with the saliva, nose mucous, blister fluid or faeces of an infected person
  • Swallowing recreational water (for example in a swimming pool)

Symptoms

  • Fever, reduced desire to eat, tiredness, sore throat.
  • After a few days, sores appear in the mouth.
  • Skin rash with red spots, and sometimes blisters, on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet.
  • The rash may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.

Prevention

  • Wash hands with soap (both caregivers and children)
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently and dirty items, including toys
  • Identify sick people rapidly before they spread the disease to others
  • Ensure access to safe, clean drinking water
  • Use appropriate sanitation facilities (sound, clean latrines)
  • Employ social mobilization and behaviour change communication

Vulnerable people

  • Usually affects infants and children younger than five years of age
  • Adults with weakened immune systems

If an epidemic occurs

  • Detect cases rapidly and refer them to health facilities
  • Isolate sick people (keep them separated from healthy people)
  • Promote handwashing with soap (by both caregivers and children)
  • Promote recommended environmental hygiene and cleaning practices
  • Promote use of appropriate sanitation facilities (sound, clean latrines)
  • Ensure safe, clean drinking water (including clean, covered water containers in households)
  • Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication

Community-based assessment - questions

Make a map of the community and mark the information you gather on the map. Record other details.

  • When did people start to fall sick with HFMD?
  • How many people have fallen sick with HFMD? Where?
  • How many people have died from HFMD? Where?
  • How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • How common is breastfeeding?
  • Where do people obtain their drinking water? Do people do anything to treat their water?
  • What sanitation facilities (including communal latrines) are available? Do people use them?
  • What handwashing facilities are available? Do they have soap?
  • Where do people go for water recreation? Is that water likely to be contaminated by faeces?
  • Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers.)
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people? When babies and infants are sick, do women continue to breastfeed them?
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about hygiene, sanitation and water?
  • Which sources of information do people use most?
  • Are rumours or is misinformation about HFMD spreading in the community?