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Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD)

HFMD is a viral infection caused by a group of enteroviruses, with Coxsackie virus as the most common one.

HFMD is usually mild with low occurrence of serious complications such as those that affect the nervous system and heart. The incubation period can range from 3 days to 2 weeks. Both adults and children are susceptible to the infection, with children being more prone to it as they have a weaker immune system.

There is NO specific treatment of HFMD (besides relieving of symptoms) and there is NO HFMD Vaccines currently available.

Signs and symptoms

  • Fever – higher than 37.5 °C
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth Ulcer
  • Rash
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite

How it is spread

  • Droplet – Spread by small droplet particles that excretes through sneezing, coughing and talking.
  • Airborne – Bacteria and Virus have the ability to suspend in the air and be transported via air currents.
  • Faecal-oral – Bacteria and virus are present in the faeces and passed directly from soiled hands to others or indirectly via objects, surface or food.
  • Direct Contact – Disease that spread via skin to skin contact directly.
  • Blood – Disease can occur when infected blood enters another person through broken skin.

Containing HFMD in Singapore

Everyone should play their part to minimize the spread of HFMD to others by:

  • Informing your child’s school, kindergarten or childcare centre immediately, so they can monitor other children closely and take additional precautions.
  • Keeping your child at home and away from public places.
  • Ensure that your child has no more symptoms of HFMD (refer to the ‘four checks’) and that the medical certificate issued by the doctor has expired before your child returns back to school, childcare centre or kindergarten.
  • Looking out for signs and symptoms in other family members.
  • Having good hygiene practices such as:
  • Frequent and proper handwash e.g. after going to the toilet and before eating.
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Not sharing food/drinks, eating utensils, toothbrushes or towels with others.
  • Proper disinfection of articles such as toys or appliances contaminated by nasal or oral secretions.

According to the Ministry Of Health website, conduct these 4 checks regularly to assess if your child is fit for school.

  • Check for fever
  • Check for blisters on arm and hands
  • Check for mouth ulcers
  • Check for blisters on soles of feet, legs or buttocks.

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