Doctors seeing rash of hand, foot and mouth disease cases this summer

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 8:08 PM

DALLAS –– Two-year-old Jack walks fine now, but this past weekend his parents were worried. He was running funny, said his father Allen Abney. 

“I thought it was because he wasn’t wearing socks, but it was because of the sores on his foot,” he said.

A doctor at an urgent care center thought the toddler's rash was a sign of a staph infection. But the bumps spread from his feet to his hands and arms, the back of his knees to his diaper area.

Dr. Karen McClard of Dallas Pediatric Associates says it's a classic case of hand, foot and mouth disease.

"Oh yes, I'm seeing several cases a day," said Dr. McClard. "I'm just one pediatrician."

Dr. McClard says hand foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that often hits in spring and summer. It is more common in children under the age of five. The disease is apparently spreading widely in daycare centers across North Texas, health officials say.

"So the first few days, you're going to have fever, sort of lethargy, just not really as much energy, wanting to eat or drink as much," said Dr. McClard. "Then you have the rash, which can or can not be painful. Sometimes it's a little itchy."

The rash typically lasts between five and seven days. It isn't usually dangerous, though dehydration is a risk for children with painful sores in their mouths, according to experts. 

Hand foot and mouth disease is spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or feces of an infected person. The incubation period after exposure is three-to-seven days.

Allen Abney says Jack's daycare sent home a note several weeks ago alerting parents that a child had been diagnosed.

"We thought we were out of the woods," says Abney, "but I guess not."

There is no treatment, except fluids and supportive care.

And other than the red blisters dotting Jack's little body, the hand, foot and mouth disease didn't slow him down at all.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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