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Friday, June 22, 2012 / 4:32 PM

St. Anthony's Medical Center Reports Increase of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Prevalence and Severity in St. Louis

Most of us associate hand, foot, and mouth disease with a disease that affects animals, but, this year, the disease is getting more prevalent and more severe in humans, St. Anthony's Medical Center reported today.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease most often hits children under five, (although it can occur in adults), causing a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, along with blisters inside the mouth and is often accompanied by fever. Generally the disease is not serious or long-lived, but it can be uncomfortable and complications can occur.

Both St. Anthony’s pediatric emergency department and its four urgent care centers have reported seeing an increased number of cases this year, and they expect it will continue for at least another month.

“This is a common viral illness that becomes active mainly during the summer and fall,” James Cahalin, pediatric emergency specialist and medical director of Cardinal Glennon Pediatric Emergency Care at St. Anthony’s Medical Center, said in a press release. “In the United States, the most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease is the coxsackievirus A16. The problem is that this year the offender is the coxsackievirus CVA6. Because it is a less common strain in this area, kids haven’t built up immunity it to it. So, the illness is more prevalent and more severe than usual.”

So how can this disease be prevented? Cahalin says it's difficult to avoid. The virus is contagious and can live on surfaces such as toys and countertops. Although you can try to disinfect as much as possible, Cahalin says that it's unrealistic for kids to avoid any possible contaminated source.

For more information on hand, food, and mouth disease, click here.

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