Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread from person to person through nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid, or stool of infected persons. You can lower your risk of being infected by
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected persons
Podcast: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
A CDC epidemiologist, Dr. Eileen Schneider, talks about hand, foot, and mouth disease, its symptoms, how it spreads, and ways to help protect yourself and your children from getting infected with the virus. Listen to the 4-minute podcast.
Commonly Confused With Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease, a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. However, the two diseases are caused by different viruses and are not related. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.
Outbreaks of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Large outbreaks of hand, foot, and mouth disease are not common in the United States. However, in some countries in Asia, outbreaks are large and occur often. Thousands of people may get infected. Some people, particularly young children, may have severe disease requiring hospitalization or even causing death. Travelers to these countries can protect themselves by practicing personal hygiene tips. Learn more.
To learn more about outbreaks occurring in countries in Asia, visit the World Health Organization.
- Page last reviewed: October 31, 2011
- Page last updated: August 19, 2013
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