Foot and mouth disease: China hit by outbreak — can adults get foot and mouth disease?

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Foot-and-mouth disease in China is making a comeback after a recent outbreak was found in a group of cattle in the Xinjiang region.

A total of 47 cattle were identified with the disease, which is known for causing blisters in the feet (hooves) and mouth, and had to be culled as a result.

The cattle were originally transported from Gansu province and were confirmed as having a strain known as O-Type.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture has now confirmed the outbreak is under control.

Foot-and-mouth disease can also be contracted by humans, where it is known as hand, foot-and-mouth disease.

The group of viruses which cause this are entirely separate to the foot and mouth disease cattle get.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually observed in children, due to transmission within settings like a nursery.

Bathroom diaper changes and children frequently putting their hands to their mouths mean that among children, the disease can be easily transmitted.

Foot-and-mouth disease- New outbreak in China forces culling

Can adults get foot and mouth disease?

Adults can also contract foot-and-mouth disease, but generally symptoms are more mild and last for a shorter duration.

For adults, older children and adolescents, hand, foot and mouth disease tends to last roughly one week.

Symptoms are usually the same as children, including nausea and vomiting, fever, tiredness, and characteristic skin lesions which form as flat, discoloured rashes.

These rashes and sores generally appear on the palms of the hand, soles of the feet and lips.

Foot-and-mouth disease- Children are most likely to contract the disease

In children, the rash usually presents without any associated sensations, but in adults can be extremely itchy.

Complications from hand, foot-and-mouth disease are generally uncommon, but can be deadly if allowed to develop.

Meningitis is among the few possible developments, a form of blood poisoning which can hospitalise victims, characterised a stiff neck, back pain and headaches.

Inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis and associated paralysis is another complication but is extremely rare, and some young patients have temporarily lost finger and toenails in the weeks following infection.

Foot-and-mouth disease- Nurseries are the easiest place to spread the infection

How to treat hand, foot and mouth disease

There is no treatment for hand, foot-and-mouth disease and a vaccine has not been developed and the infection.

The general advice is to wait it out, as the disease is mild enough to go away on its own.

For children, a few days off school while the infection runs its course is beast, and they can return once symptoms disappear.


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