34 answers

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease???

Does anyone know about Hand foot and Mouth (HFMD) disease? My sister's kids (one is two and the other is 8 months old) were exposed to HFMD. She is visiting all the way from New Zealand. We only get to see each other once a year and she is here to see my newborn son for the first time (he is 3 months old). I'm so upset because what I've read sounds like if I see them I'm basically exposing my baby to the disease even if they don't have symptoms. Any advice? I've been hearing more and more about kids getting this. I'm airing on the side of having to not see them and they came all this way to see us.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

To all the mom's that replied to my question (all 34 of you!) Thank you so very much. I was blown away by all the advice, support, and personal stories that you shared regarding HFMD. It was a very difficult decision for me to make but after weighing all the risks I decided to keep my baby away from my sister and her kids for 7 days. I visited them a few times during that week but my sister and I told her 2 year old that I was not feeling well and didn't want to get her sick so no hugs or kisses until I was better. After a week her kids never showed any signs of having HFMD so we were able to be with them for the last 4 days of their visit. I feel like I'm an expert on HFMD after getting so much information from you all and doing my own research, so if anyone has any questions about it just ask:) Thanks again. I Love Mamasource!

Featured Answers

My son got this from daycare when he was 2. HAND WASHING is the best defense. I took him to the peditrician and she told me normally adults do not get this but I had just got braces on and got it. It was miserable. it is not suppose to be contagious unless the sores break but I did not see any broken ones on my boy. My daughter was 5 when this happened and got a mild case. I suggest keeping the kids away from the baby and sterilizing everything and using hand sanitizer everytime anyone touches the baby...err on the side of caution....

More Answers

Hi S.,

HFMD is caused by a nasty little virus called coxsackievirus (type A). It is spread through nasal secretions, saliva and feces. The best way to try to avoid infection is through rigorous hand hygiene, especially after eating, doing diaper changes, using the toilet, sneezing, coughing, etc. It is most infectious during the first week of illness. Since this typically begins with a couple of days of flu-like symptoms before the rash appears, you can end up being exposed before you know what the infected person is actually sick with. Because the virus is primarily transported by hand contact from the infected person, anything they touch can end up being contaminated. This means toys, utensils, etc. The CDC site has a good set of fast facts you should take a look at:

Fortunately, the virus is self limiting (active symptoms last no more than a week, although the virus can hang around in the blood for months while the immune system is getting rid of it). Severe complications are rare and infection never becomes chronic.

However, your 3 mo-old has no immunity and may not receive it through your breast milk if you are not immune to the virus (have never been exposed to it, or do not generate an immune response to new exposure, or if the virus is a substantially different variant than the one you were exposed to originally). The biggest problem with an infant is that the mouth sores can be so painful that they prevent good feeding and hydration. Tylenol can help reduce the fever and pain, but if the baby becomes dehydrated, hospitalization may be necessary to administer IV fluids. This is also pretty uncommon.

Personally, I would be cautious of a visit by the exposed children. It would be best if your sister visited without her children, and she should wash her hands very well after leaving her children and again before entering your house or coming in contact with your baby (in case she has already unknowingly spread virus on other surfaces she or her toddler may have come in contact with, such as the car door, etc.) That way, if her children are shedding virus she is less likely to carry it into your home. Also, incubation of the virus before symptoms appear is from 2 to 10 days. So, if it has been at least 17 days since they've been exposed, they're probably clear and OK to visit(either they did not contract the virus or have cleared the prime infectious period). I would still insist upon rigorous hand washing, though, and I would avoid letting the 8 month old come in contact with your baby at all, since babies of that age spend a lot of time with their hands in their mouths! Also, don't allow anything the toddler might stick in her/his mouth (including hands) to come in contact the baby.

BTW, about 50% of kids with coxsackievirus have no symptoms, and symptoms in many others may be very mild. Sometimes a child will have only a fever and no rash or blisters, or the rash appears only on the hands and feet and never in the mouth or throat. For this reason, it can spread rapidly through daycares and nursery schools. It is theoretically possible for most of the children in such an environment to have the virus and never know it. If your baby is in daycare, he may have already been exposed to the virus and is immune to it. The problem is, you can't know. Because the virus is so mild (relative to coxsackie B), I don't believe an easy blood test is available. Tests are usually only done if a case is unusually severe and serious complications have developed. This involves testing for the viral DNA, which can be pretty expensive (several hundered dollars/test).

Sorry -- I hope this isn't too much information. At least it's given me a break from the hepatitis article I've been working on! I hope you find a way to visit comfortably with your sister.


2 moms found this helpful

Definitely call your pediatrician and ask for advice. When I gave birth to my now 1 year old daughter, my niece and nephhew had HFMD. Even though my sister and brother-in-law were symptom free and never got the disease, my ob-gyn and pediatrician ordered the whole family to stay away from me and my newborn. If a little baby contracts the disease it can be a real problem with his/her ability to feed.

Hi S.,

HF&M is a very common illness in babies, and most "day care" babies have had it. My son contracted it in daycare when he was about 6 months old. Other than some discomfort (sores in the mouth and throat can make the child uncomfortable when they're eating) and the weirdness of the blisters on the hands and feet (didn't bother my child at all, just looked strange) there were no harmful effects. My other son (then 2 years old) did NOT get it, even though others in his day care class had it as well, and I made no effort to keep my two children away from each other when the younger one had it.

I would suggest speaking with your pediatrician about whether there is any reason to keep your newborn away from the niece and nephew, or any possible detrimental effects to having HF&M at the age of three months. (There were 3 month olds in the day care who had it, so I wouldn't think there would be.) I realize that because my children are in daycare I am much more casual about baby illness than some other parents may be, but ultimately kids get sick, and they get each other sick - I would go ahead and have everyone see each other!

Hope this is helpful!


Goodness! Don't miss out on the chance to see your sister!! Given that your son is so little, you can control this by making sure they don't handle the same things. You say your sister's kids were exposed to it, but don't acutally show syptoms? I highly doubt you have a problem. That said, I wouldn't want a 3month old to get it, but it's not a terrible illness even if he does. I urge you to contact your pediatrician and get some advice on how far to keep them apart and whether you need to clean things they handle or just wait for germs to die.

I hope you will go ahead and have your visit with your sister. Alternative suggestion -- perhaps someone in the family could be with her little ones while you & sister visit and you introduce your new baby boy to her.

All the best,

It's one of those annoying childhood diseases...I think once they get it, they are contagious for about a week after. My son had it around 8-9 months. It wasn't the end of the world...honestly we didn't even realize he had it until it had pretty much passed. We thought he was teething really badly and then another kid at daycare got it and we realized that's what he was dealing with...My son's symptoms were pretty much low grade fever (like teething) and didn't want to eat or suck, really fussy. We figure he had the sores in his throat because he didn't have any on his hands, feet or bottom like you usually do. Poor guy, but we made it through...


Relax. It is extremely common and at some point your baby will be exposed to it. It sounds and seems worse than it is. My son got it and it scared me because I didn't know what it was. Once I found out I was totally reassured. He didn't even notice that he had it- it didn't bother him at all it just looked terrible. We still don't know where he got it from- no one we know had it at the time. It's so common though he could have gotten it from anywhere. The doctor was very reassuring. It is a harmless childhood illness. Be sensible about the visit- lots of handwashing- but don't freak out. They've come too far to not see them and at least you know about it so you are prepared. Enjoy it as much as you can.

My son was exposed to it last year. The friend he was playing with didn't show signs of it the day we were together. Sure enough the next day she broke out. I kept watching for it and w/in a week, my son got it. We stayed sequestered in the house for about a week hoping to not expose anyone else. I would definately not let the cousins be around your little guy. What a bummer!

J. S.

My son got it when he was 7 months old. Blisters on the hands and feet (tiny ones) and a terrible soar throat - never saw blisters in his mouth. The worst part was that he was nursing exclusively at the time, and he WOULD NOT nurse for almost 36 hours straight at the worst of it, because his throat hurt so bad. So...I had to pump around the clock to get through it.

It is a yucky illness, but not entirely dreadful. I would NEVER expose my kids on purpose now, knowing what it is like, but if my daughter gets it (let's hope not) I know we'll survive it. There is no medication for it...

Quite honestly, I will bet they were exposed to a lot more than that on the airplane. As a preschool teacher it is a very common disease, unfortunately as a new mom is sounds very scary (don't get me wrong, it is not fun!)

I would definitely see the family! If anything do not allow the kids to hold the baby. Keep purell on hand and have the baby sleep elsewhere, etc. It's pretty easy to shield a newborn....just keep him close to Mom. Don't lose out on a rare chance to see family due to an "exposure". Honestly, we are exposed to A LOT on a daily basis.

My now 3 year old daughter got it when she was 14mos. old. I was completely mortified. However, the more I learned about it. The calmer I got. She got it in the summer from a little boy we know while playing with him in the park. he had no symptoms, and they didn't even know he had it yet. He had gotten it from daycare. It is basically a childhood disease that is related to chickenpox. I wouldn't not see your sister but definatley take the percautions you would if you were visiting someone with a cold. Wash your hands. If your sister or her kids want to hold the baby make them wash their hands. Try to limit the touching her kids have with your baby. And if you play with her kids, wash before you handle your son. I wouldn't let them the kids kiss your baby, so teach them about blowing kiss. It will be fun. Since your son is 3 mos old, I doubt he will be playing with the kids much. And just make sure they dont share toys. i have a few friends who's kids have it now. It seems to me, i always hear about it in the summer. (But I think its winter in new zeland right) So chances are, if your child is around anyother kids and they are touching or kissing him he could get it. I know that last thing you want is a sick baby, so just be cautions. And let your sister know that he is only three mos Old so you want to be really careful. It probably wouldn't be so much of a worry if he were older.

Dear S.,
I think your sister is either unconscious about the severity
of this? Or,does she really think seeing her sister takes a
precedence above any and all health issues.
Indeed she is just excited to see you and your new baby-
She is just plain not thinking of the consequences of your
brand new baby's' health!!!!!!!
You have to tell her gently-- You just can't afford to take
a risk with such a dire illness.
Really!!! This is nothing to be taken lightly!!
I hope you will do the right thing for all concerned!!
Your Sister is a carrier of this disease, whether she knows it or not!!

Good Luck To You--This Will Be Difficult!
C. S.

Hi S.,

My daughter got it from another kid or adult, not sure which. The symptoms only last 3-5 days, but are very painful if they have in the mouth, which my daughter did. She couldn't eat or drink for 2 days becuase she had blisters in her throat. We had to get a prescription for a medicine that numbed her throat so she could eat.. It was awful. Yes, my Dr said it's pretty common but if you can avoid it I would highly recommend it. If I was you I would call your Dr. and tell him/her the situation and see what they say. You might be ok if they don't touch anything or anyone.
Good Luck

According to my son's pediatrician, HFMD, is a virus like the flu. It's not really a disease. There is no cure for it, and there is nothing they can do for it. It's a very common virus especially for kids who are at the stage of putting things into their mouths or thumb suckers (like my two boys). Their doctor also said it is very common in July and September.

Basically my advice to you is to go see your family, just be sensible about it. You don't want to force your family to live in a "bubble". Children are going to be exposed to all kinds of things as they grow up. All we can do is do our best to keep them healthy, and take care of them when they get sick.

I think that it is worth seeing your sister. Just make sure that everyone washes their hands and toys before anyone puts things in their mouths. If you do that then you should be fine. Good luck and enjoy your company!

My son got this from daycare when he was 2. HAND WASHING is the best defense. I took him to the peditrician and she told me normally adults do not get this but I had just got braces on and got it. It was miserable. it is not suppose to be contagious unless the sores break but I did not see any broken ones on my boy. My daughter was 5 when this happened and got a mild case. I suggest keeping the kids away from the baby and sterilizing everything and using hand sanitizer everytime anyone touches the baby...err on the side of caution....

hi S.! my cousins' daughter had hfmd and gave it to her cousin and her dad....my cousins' 3mo old didn't get it b/c he had my cousin's immunity (breastfeeding)....BUT you are taking a chance!!??? i would be leary though! SHOOT of all times huh!!! ask your dr just to be on the safe side...i hope that helps! :)

I am with you. Your baby is only 3 months! No one in their right mind would want to expose their child to a disease, even if it comes from family. Your sister should know better. Talk to you pediatrician, and get their input. You could always say no, doctors orders!

My boys, 4 and 1 1/2 got HFMD a few months ago. The oldest had a high fever for about 2 days and only one small blister on his lip and a few spots on the bottom of his feet. My youngest didn't really have a fever but got many blisters on his feet, a few spots on his hands, and even a little on the back of his legs. Neither one complained at all. From what I've heard, it's very contagious, but there's no treatment. It just goes away on its own. My doctor said that usually the higher the fever the less the blisters/spots and that was the case in my boys. I'm not sure where they picked it up - the gym, preschool, church?? but it didn't really seem to be a big deal for us. I'd check with your son's doctor and see what s/he recommends. I'm not sure what the effects would be on a 3 month old. It would be a shame to miss out on time with your sister. Good luck.

Both of my kids got it (at 3 & 2 y.o.). It was probably the most mild virus they've ever had - no outside sores, but a pretty serious sore throat - popsicles, juice, soup, etc for 2-3 days. Our doctor said it was very contagious - adults usually didn't get it - kind of like chicken pox - we were all exposed as kids. That having been said, I think I would check with your pediatrician about the impact on a 3 month old. If it were me, I would probably still hang out with my sister, but be really careful about her kids. Good luck!

My friends 10 month old baby had hand and foot disease. My baby was exposed without symptons and did not get it. Plus, it is a disease that once they get it, they get immunity for life. It isn't a fun disease, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Of course our babies are older and not 3 months old. When our friends baby did get symptoms, my baby still visited with the family, but we just didn't let them touch each other.

My baby even touched toys. But too be on the safe side, and since your 3 month old probably isn't moving around, if you dont let them touch the children, or let them share anything, he shouldn't catch the disease. It is transmitted by fluids and touch.

I hope that helps. This is a question for your doctor, but that is the advice ours gave us.

I don't recall the incubation and if it's contagious is not symptomatic. Ask your Dr.

If they MUST come, then I would make sure you have those Anti-bacterial gels all over the place. If they want to touch the baby, then they MUST use the gel (sometimes people don't know how to wash their hands properly) to be sure the germ is not present. And NO kissing the baby. Personally, I wouldn't even let the kids hold your newborn. You'll also have to be a cleaning freak to sanitize everything including refigerator doors, door knobs,faucet handles....just about anything you would touch. Oh, you should use Anti-bacterial gel/spray on your hands before you touch your baby too.
It's managable, It's just going to be ALOT of work.
Wow this seems like a horrible desease, reading other peoples responses!! Why isn't there a vaccination for it??
Good luck!

Just have everybody wash their hands for 15-20 seconds before touching your baby. Wear him in the front carrier as much as possible when they're around, etc. Every time you leave the house, you're exposing baby to things that you don't even know are there. If you're careful about washing your hands (and cleaning his) often, you can keep him pretty healthy. Have fun with your sister! :)

My daughter had this when my baby was only a week old. It was Hell!She had a high fever for 2 weeks and the doctor said she was contagious as long as she had sores, which was for like 3 weeks. My doctor also said if my baby got it and had a high fever, he would have to stay in the hospital because he was newborn. Luckily after many lysol spays and hand washings, he never did get the virus.
Since it is more rare for adults to get this virus. I would let your sister come without the kids. She can be very cautious and make sure her hands are clean. This is not something you want your baby to get. It was very painful for my daughter. Her mouth was full of blisters and she couln't eat solid foods. I'm sorry you even have to think about all this. Good luck.

They were only exposed to it, right? Are they already here? You know, I'd visit, but have a hands off rule in regards to the kids holding or touching the baby. I think it is spread through saliva. They are young enough that you can keep them from sharing toys. You can always call your ped and ask to speak to a nurse. Take their advice.


hey there. well, i'd definitely call your pediatrician for advice since your baby is so little.....however, my son has had hand foot and mouth twice, and while it is definitely not fun, it sounds much worse than it is.....it starts with a fever and in my son's case a sore throat, and a few days of big-time crankiness, and then you'll notice little red spots on the feet which turn into little blisters, and that's about it (when it happened the 1st time i googled it, and i guess they can get the blisters all over the body, but this didn't happen to us either time).....i have also gotten it both times, and my friend who has a son the same age as mine (@21 mos), also got it..it's VERY common.....my ped said that there are 25 strains of the common cold that can lead to HFMD in little ones.....so i guess what i'm saying is that unless your ped says it's dangerous due to your baby's age, i'd definitely go ahead and see your sister and her kids! if you consider how many people have newborns and toddlers in the same house, my guess is this happens frequently! hope this helps, but do double-check with your dr!

my son had this when i was pregnant. you are not at risk if you have had chicken pox- this is what our doctor told us.i did not get it- (trust me i was kissing the soles of his feet to make him feel better.) the basics are just make sure everyone washes their hands. family is family you need to see them ( they traveled so far) nice of her to give you a heads up. some people don't even mention it. hygiene is the most important theme and maybe don't let everyone near the newborn. their immunity isn't developed yet so everyone can view but not touch. you will do what you think is best. all everyone is giving is advice. good luck and have a great time with your sister :)

Hi S.,

My 22 month old daughter got this from church. I had a 5 month old son and was so scared he would get it. It was harsh but I used wiped down all her toys and his with Clorox wipes. I would not let her play with his few little toys and would not let her hold him.. .... He spent alot of time in the swing for many days.

I just tried to be sure they did not exchange any body fluids and changed her diaper in a separate location as well.

The Dr. say 2-4 days exposure before the symptoms a rise. I gave my 22 month old lots of otter pops and tried to keep Tylenol every 4 hours. She was very sick but my son never got.

Hope everyone is okay.

From what I understand, it is a very common and mild childhood disease. It produces a rash, but not many other symptoms, I think. A year or so ago and little boy that my daughter is friends with had it - we played with him the same day that the doctor diagnosed him, and neither my daughter or year old son caught it. Check with your pediatrician, though.

HI S.,

Just be sure to have everyone wash their hands the kids wash their feet. It is very contagious. And not to scare you but adults can get it too! My husband got it really bad after my daughter had it and I started to get it. I started taking lots of whats called natural cellular defense (zeolite) (you can also give it to your kids if you choose to), which removes toxins and toxic metals from your body. I ended up with only a little sore throat and because my husband was at work when he got his fever he didn't start taking it soon enough. He had a fever for 2 days and was sick for 4. and I was just fine. My point is that it is contagious but you can do something about it. Also if any of the kids get it i suggest warm liquids not cold. There's nothing the dr.'s can give you just treat the fever, alternating motrin and tylenol and be sure to keep up with the liquids. I would be happy to help if I can. Let me know if you need more information. You can check out the ncd (zeolite) at my website www.healthyeatinghealthylife.com If you need a bottle right away I have one. Hope you enjoy your sister and her little ones! Take Care and best wishes!

Hand foot and mouth disease is very contageous, I would make sure your sisters kids do not have it before they come out, and honestly, I'm sure your sister would not want to bring her kids around your baby, if they have this disease, I'm not sure if your baby would be at risk unless they actually have the disease, but the gact they have been exposed, they should show some signs with in 48 hours time frame. I know you love your sister but check with your baby's ped before you allow her kids around your baby, if your baby gets this disease he is going to be missereble. J.

Easy... just call your Ped and get their advice. My daughter had it at 7 months, and from what I remember everyone made it seem like it was no big deal. She didnt have a fever or any discomfort and acted totally normal..looked it too, well except for the little pimple like spots all over. Just ask your doc and see..I dont remember how long ity was contagious for though..but I'm sure as long as the kids dont touch or breath on baby, it will be ok. Lots of lysol and clorox anywhere spray. GoodLuck.

My 19 mo old DD just finished w/ HFMD and it was TERRIBLE. The saliva is highly contagious and they are contagious during fever (about 5 days) and 3 days after. We are still BF'ing pretty heavy, she eats but not a lot (as toddlers do) don't assume that just b/c you are your baby is protected. I would avoid it at all costs, personally.

My kids had hand, foot and mouth disease when they were small. The doctor says there is an epidemic of it once in awhile. It is highly contagious, but usually not serious. The children get small blisters on the palms of their hands, soles of their feet, and inside their mouths. There is also often a fever. It is highly, highly contagious even before symptoms occur. I don't think I would turn my sister away to avoid it. Hand sanitizer and the like would be a good idea, though. It would be a lot rougher for you to have than your kids.

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