KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In addition to the other viruses circulating in our community, there is an uptick in a common childhood illness called Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. The rash-causing virus is highly contagious and can look scary, but it is preventable.

Dr. Shannon Cohen, a physician at Children’s Hospital, shares more on what can be done to prevent this disease.

She says that symptoms usually last 3 to 5 days. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Poor Appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Painful sores (start as red spots that blister often in the mouth. A skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days. Flat or raised red spots usually on soles of feet or palms of hands)

Cohen explains some complications of the virus include severe dehydration due to painful mouth sores making it tough to drink, rarely viral or aseptic meningitis can occur and even more rare- encephalitis or swelling of the brain can happen.

There is no vaccine for HFM. It is spread through close personal contact- through saliva, air- from coughing and sneezing, contact with feces, contaminated objects and surfaces. Cohen says that washing hands well and frequently and keeping children home from school when sick help to prevent the spread of HFM.