Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is very common in Singapore, with the total number of cases amounting to 40217 in 2018 (an increase of over 19% from 2017). Do you know just what exactly is HFMD, and what should you do to protect your family from this contagious disease?
HFMD is an infection caused by intestinal viruses called Enteroviruses, the predominant strain being the Coxsackievirus type A. It can be easily spread from one individual to another through direct contact with an infected person’s saliva, nose secretions, faeces, fluid from blisters and droplets expelled by a sneeze or cough. Generally, this disease can affect both adults and children, but those under 5 years are most susceptible.
So how do you know if your family member has HFMD? Usually, patients will suffer from some of the following symptoms: rash or blisters on hands, feet or buttocks, mouth ulcers, fever, sore throat, lack of appetite and lethargy. What’s alarming is that certain individuals are asymptomatic!
The majority of HFMD cases are mild and normally last less than a week. As such, there is no particular treatment for this disease, except for the relief of symptoms. To speed up recovery, patients are advised to have sufficient rest and water intake, consume a soft diet (like pureed fruit or porridge) if they are suffering from mouth ulcers, and take medications as prescribed. However, complications like infections in the brain, heart or lungs may happen occasionally. If your family member presents symptoms of HFMD, please take him or her to a doctor.
As the old saying goes – prevention is better than cure, it’s time you boost your family’s immunity to protect them from HFMD. You can do so by encouraging them to consume more:
- Vitamin C-rich foods (e.g. oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, bell peppers, broccoli and spinach)
- Vitamin E-rich foods (e.g. sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and spinach)
- Vitamin B6-rich foods (e.g. tuna, chicken, avocado and pistachios)
Also, it is important for you and your family to adopt good hygiene practices:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap before and after a meal and after visiting the washroom
- Refrain from sharing food/beverages, cutleries or toothbrushes
- Disinfect objects that are contaminated by nasal or oral secretions