The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) announced this week several cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) across campus over the past week.
HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.
It is spread to others by close personal contact, coughing or sneezing or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. It can be difficult to eradicate in schools, group living communities and daycares. Although it is not serious for most people, the infection can cause significant pain while eating, walking and writing.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses. Coxsackievirus is the most common cause of HFMD.
CU Boulder tells students and staff that Coxsackievirus infections can be serious for laboratory rodents. Staff who work in animal research facilities should take extra care not to spread the disease.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
A person can lower their risk of being infected by washing hands often with soap and water, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and soiled items and avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease.