Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

All information on the North Andover Public Schools website is for educational purposes only. Information on this website is not intended to be an endorsement of any organization or a replacement for professional medical advice.

What is hand, foot and mouth disease? 
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common illness of infants and young children, most commonly caused by a virus called coxsackievirus. Symptoms include mild fever, poor appetite, and a sore throat. One or 2 days after the fever begins, tiny blisters develop in the mouth. A skin rash also develops over 1–2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash is not itchy and is usually found on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Illness is usually mild and most people get better in 7–10 days. 

How do you catch hand, foot, and mouth disease? 
It is spread when the virus from stool or saliva gets on hands or objects and then onto other people’s hands and into mouths. A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness but they still can have the virus for many weeks, especially in their stool. People usually get sick 3 to 7 days after being exposed to the virus. 

How is hand, foot, and mouth disease diagnosed? 
Health care providers can tell if people have hand, foot, and mouth disease by their symptoms. A laboratory test can be done on the throat or stool to know for sure but since the testing often takes 2–4 weeks to obtain a final answer, these tests are usually not ordered. 

How is hand, foot, and mouth disease treated? 
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease but your health care provider may suggest treatment to relieve some symptoms. 

How do you stop the spread of hand, foot, and mouth disease? 
  1. Always wash your hands with soap and running water after using the toilet, changing a diaper, helping a child use the toilet, and before touching food or eating. Also wash your hands after wiping or blowing noses or after touching nose, throat, or eye secretions. Babies and children need their hands washed at these times, too. 
  2. Encourage your child not to share food, drinks, or utensils at school. 
What precautions can be taken? 
  1. Watch your child and family members for signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease. 
  2. If you think your child may have hand, foot, and mouth disease, call your health care provider for instructions. 
  3. Tell your child’s school nurse if your child has hand, foot, and mouth disease. 
When can your child return to school? 
A child with hand, foot, and mouth disease can return to school as soon as he/she is fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of Tylenol or Ibuprofen) and feels well enough to attend.