Health Advisory: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

November 14, 2019

Health Advisory: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

01/14/19

Recently there have been several cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common viral illness that have occured with students living in the campus Bowles Hall

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?  Hand, foot, and mouth disease is typically a mild illness caused by a virus which is common in children but can also occur in young adults.  Nearly all people recover in 7-10 days without medical treatment. Complications are uncommon. 

Key Facts: 

  • It usually causes fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet.

  • It is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes,  contact with contaminated objects like water bottles or touching surfaces like doorknobs that have the virus on it. 

  • A person is contagious when the first symptoms appear and may continue to be contagious until the blister-like skin lesions disappear. A person is most contagious during the first week of illness.

You can lower the risk of the spread of this by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.  Visit CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives! for more information.

  • Do not share water bottles, cups, or utensils and avoid close contact with others if unwell

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (tables)

  • Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then dispose of all soiled tissues and wash your hands!

These measures may reduce the spread of infection, but they will not completely interrupt it. 

People with hand-foot-and-mouth should stay home to avoid infecting others and to rest and recover more quickly.  While there is no specific treatment, over-the-counter analgesics like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain and fever, and anesthetic mouthwashes or sprays can help numb mouth pain - it is very important to stay hydrated while ill.

Students with symptoms are encouraged to call the UHS Advice Line at (510) 643-7197; while they may not need to come in for evaluation, those with fever or severe or atypical symptoms should have the diagnosis confirmed.

For more information, see  https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html and https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/FT-MOUTH.pdf