W. MI doctors see spike in hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease
This file photo shows the rash caused by hand, foot and mouth disease.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s anecdotal evidence that a highly contagious virus is spiking among West Michigan children.

“This morning in my walk-in clinic the first four cases were hand, foot and mouth disease, so that’s pretty unusual,” said Dr. Ronald Hofman of Alger Pediatrics in Grand Rapids.

“And it’s been that trend for the last week or two,” he added.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is characterized by a series of small lesions or sores often on the hands, feet or around and inside the mouth. However, the rash can appear all over the body; sometimes parents mistake it for diaper rash.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by enteroviruses that pass through saliva and stool. It’s more common in daycare settings, where children often swap toys carrying their germs.

Hofman said what makes it worse is the virus “sheds” for a while after the infection, so it can continue to spread to other children for a while.

Hofman said enteroviral infections are more common during the summer months when people are in the water and sharing things. However, he says the last few years there’s been an emergency of the enterovirus that causes the type of hand, foot and mouth disease seen during this time of year.

While people sickened by hand, foot and mouth disease may experience fever, Hofman said the infection is generally benign.

He said parents can treat the fever with acetaminophen, but they must let the virus run its course, which usually takes a few days.

“Generally it’s a wait it out (situation),” Hofman said, conceding it can impact parents works schedules.