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Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads in the Texas Panhandle

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spreading around the Texas Panhandle. It is typically seen in infants and children younger than five. (Photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7)

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spreading around the Texas Panhandle. It is typically seen in infants and children younger than five.

I spoke with a local doctor who says although it sounds scary, it is actually very common and is not fatal. But it is going around right now because it tends to increase in the fall and is very contagious.

Hand, food and mouth is a viral illness. It usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite and sore throat.

"One of the most common ways we'll see people present is mom will bring in the kid and say they are just not wanting to eat or drink and we look in the mouth and we see a bunch of these blisters or ulcers in there," said Gerad Troutman, Emergency Physician. "That's why they're not wanting to feed because it hurts when they do."

Dr. Troutman says these blisters can also appear on a child's feet or hands, but they do not always show up in all three places. He says in recent months, he has noticed an increase in patients with this illness because of the weather. And it can spread fast.

"When folks are in closer encounters, they're more apt to spread it between one another," Troutman said.

So it could spread in places like daycares. According to Texas Health and Human Services, there are requirements to report illness in a child care setting. But they say hand, foot and mouth is not a reportable illness, but most daycares have procedures they stick to following the disease.

"We treat it a little bit differently because it spreads big time," said Alicia Brown, Kimble's Learning Center Assistant Director. "It's very, very contagious so once we see a bump or whatever we may feel that is that, we immediately call parents, get them away, let them go to the doctor."

If a kid does have the illness, they are required to bring a doctor's note and stay out of the daycare until it is gone. Then the daycare notifies all other parents.

"Hand, foot and mouth as a disease doesn't concern me as an emergency physician," Troutman said. "You don't die from hand, foot and mouth. I have three children and our kids have all had it before. It happens and it's a nusience to deal with, like any sickness or many of these viral types of illnesses will get better with supportive care of Tylenol, Motrin, pushing fluids and they'll get better."

Troutman says anyone who notices symptoms in their child should take them to their pediatrician or urgent care.

He says that antibiotics will not help with this virus, but sleep and fluids are most important.

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