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Doctors Seeing More Cases Of Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease In Kids This Summer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In the Old West, an outbreak of Hoof and Mouth Disease struck fear into the hearts of cattle drivers.

The viral infection could cause cows to go lame or worse.

Not to be confused with that serious disease. There is another uncomfortable, yet benign infection called Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which occurs during the summer months among children, usually babies and kids up to the age of 10.

"I feel like we're seeing more numbers this summer than we usually see," says Dr. Robin Gehris, chief of Pediatric Dermatology at Children's Hospital.

Kids can pick the Hand, Foot and Mouth infection up on the playground or in daycare from saliva or nasal mucus.

Symptoms are fever, and then blisters break out on hands, feet and in the throat.

Children with a history of eczema or other chronic skin conditions who come down with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease are easy to misdiagnose.

"Looking at this, could this be actually a different virus, like the herpes virus," said Dr. Gehris. "So often these kids will come into the emergency room and we do testing to make sure it's not a different virus."

"You would think that as a physician that I should have recognized it right away, but I didn't," said Dr. Natalia Vlassova, a mother and doctor.

A second-year resident in dermatology, Dr. Vlassova's 3-year-old daughter, Audrey, is recovering from a bout of the infection last weekend.

"She was just very sleepy, didn't want to eat, didn't want to play," she said.

Acetaminiphen can help with fever, but call your pediatrician if the fever is high or persistent, and keep kids hydrated with cool fluids or popsicles.

Parents can reduce the risk of spreading infection by washing your hands often with soap and water, disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, and avoiding close contact like kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups.

Says Dr. Vlassova, "Once lesions crust, she can go back to school, and she did, crusted beautifully. And she's doing fine."

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