Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a common disease in children caused by enteroviruses such as coxsackieviruses and enterovirus 71 (EV71). The EV71 infection is of particular concern as it more likely associates with severe outcomes (like viral meningitis, encephalitis, poliomyelitis-like paralysis) and even death. The usual peak season for HFMD in Hong Kong is from early summer to autumn and a smaller peak may also occur in winter.
The disease is mostly self-limiting and resolves in 7 - 10 days. It usually begins with fever, poor appetite, tiredness and sore throat. One to two days after fever onset, painful sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots with blister and then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gum, and inside of the cheeks. There may also be skin rash that is non-itchy and, some with blisters. The rash is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia. A person with HFMD may not have symptoms, or may have only the rash or only mouth ulcers.
Infection will result in immunity to (protection against) the specific virus that has caused HFMD. However, a second attack of HFMD may occur following infection with a different member of the enterovirus group.
Mode of transmission
The disease mainly spreads by contact with an infected person’s nose or throat discharges, saliva, fluid from vesicles or stool, or after touching contaminated objects. The disease is most contagious during the first week of the illness and the viruses can be found in stool for weeks.
About 3 - 7 days
There is no effective vaccine. Good personal and environmental hygiene are the mainstay of prevention. While in Hong Kong or during travel, members of the public are advised to:
*For detailed information about Enterovirus 71, please refer to
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