Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: not just for cows

On Tuesday, the Other Half picked Little Miss up from nursery to be told they’d had a confirmed case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and Little Miss was showing symptoms. We needed to book an emergency Doctor’s appointment and she needed to be quarantined for up to two weeks until her symptoms were completely gone as it’s highly contagious.

The OH then called me, relaying the message so I could get the doctor on the phone before they closed that evening. This all sounded very dramatic so naturally, I freaked out a little bit: “HFAM!? Isn’t that the cow disease!? Oh my god! My baby’s going to go insane like cattle!” …

In actual fact, the human strain of HFAM isn’t that bad (in most cases).

It is highly contagious amongst under 5s as they don’t have a strong immune system yet, hence why they need to stay away from people and animals until their symptoms are gone. The virus is passed through bodily fluids (i.e., spit and snot) or poo – all things under 5s simply can’t resist sharing amongst themselves.

The good news is it’s unusual for adults to catch it. The bad news is there’s an outbreak nationwide in the UK at the moment (Autumn 2015) and being a virus, doctors can’t do much; you just have to ride it out. Administer paracetamol for the fever, choose a good movie and hunker down.

Two weeks was a slight exaggeration; usually it’s about 5 days, though in severe cases it can be 7-10.

So what symptoms are you looking out for?

  1. Grey/pinkish spots on the hands, feet, bum/genitals and around the mouth, with ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue. The rash may also appear behind their knees. (But clearly ‘Hand, Foot, Mouth Bum and Behind the Knees Disease’ didn’t quite roll of the tongue the same way…)
  2. Moderate fever with cough and cold like symptoms
  3. Loss of appetite or not wanting to drink anything (the ulcers can be uncomfortable). This is the big watch out as under 5s can become dehydrated quickly if they won’t drink water.

The rash isn’t itchy, but some kids will pick at spots regardless (after all, they’re only human) and in severe cases, the spots can blister towards the end of the incubation period. If this is the case, there is a risk of it becoming impetigo, which needs antibiotics and more time off nursery or school.

For us, the mild fever only really lasted the first day though Tuesday night was tough as Little Miss would only sleep in our arms. We tried bringing her into bed with us but that just seemed a big game, so the OH and I took shifts in the armchair in her room instead through the night.

Despite the lack of fever since then, Little Miss clearly hasn’t been feeling herself. On day two, I took her for a walk to get some fresh air (and freedom – oh how I miss the outside world!) in the woods near our house and within five minutes she had hold of my hand and was marching me home saying, “hom. Mammy hom!”. (That’s ‘Home. Mummy, home.’ to you and I.)

Pretty much unheard of in the 19 months she’s been alive.

Quarantine Day 3: the captivity becomes too much for Little Miss and she turns to drink.*

So, we’re currently on day six of our quarantine – Little Miss still had just two spots on one foot so to be safe, she’s still off nursery. And I’m running out of ideas to keep indoor play interesting. Even if Little Miss isn’t bored of pushing dolly from room to room in the pram and feeding her infinite bottles, I sure as hell am!

I’ve exhausted all my sensory play ideas from ribbons to balloons; there is officially nothing else we can do with a large cardboard box; we’ve coloured, we’ve watched movies… Yesterday I even got her baking for the first time.

Note to self, Little Miss is still a bit young for baking…

If anyone has any ideas for what else we could do to keep indoor play interesting, please do let me know. We’ve still got at least one day to go…

If you think your child may have HFAM, see your GP as soon as possible and avoid contact with other humans or animals until it is confirmed. On behalf of the rest of the world, thank you. 

For more information about Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, visit the NHS website here.

For more information about Impetigo, visit the NHS website here.  

*NB: Little Miss is drinking milk (of the lactose free variety). Nothing more, nothing less.


5 thoughts on “Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: not just for cows

    • amiecaitlin says:

      Little Miss is the same, banging on the door by 8:30am if we’re not showing signs of leaving. But you can tell she’s not been 100% as she’s not been so interested in going out. Fingers crossed Toby will be the same – for your sake! X

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