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 older children and adults. Typical symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash.
People infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease can spread it to others when they cough or sneeze. You can also get hand, foot, and mouth disease if you come into contact with an infected person’s blister fluid or feces (poop). Lower your risk of being infected by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Disinfect dirty surfaces and soiled items
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected people
Commonly Confused With Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which affects 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. For more information, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library, Foot-and-Mouth Disease.
Outbreaks of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Large outbreaks of hand, foot, and mouth disease are not common in the United States. However, they occur often in some countries in Asia. Thousands of people may get infected. Some people, particularly young children, may have severe disease that requires hospitalization or, rarely, even causes death. Travelers to these countries can protect themselves by practicing good personal hygiene. Learn more.
To learn more about outbreaks occurring in countries in Asia, visit the World Health Organization.
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.
- Page last reviewed: December 22, 2017
- Page last updated: December 22, 2017
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