Hand-foot-and-mouth (HFM) disease is a viral infection with a characteristic
It usually occurs in young children.
What is going on in the body?
The viruses that cause HFM disease are easily spread from person
to person. The viruses produce a characteristic rash. Most of the time, HFM
disease is caused by the Coxsackievirus A16. This is a member of a viral
subgroup known as enteroviruses. It has no relation to foot-and-mouth disease,
a viral infection often found in farm animals.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
HFM disease is more common in the summer and fall months. The
viruses infect humans only and are passed in feces. They can be spread when a
person with contaminated hands touches food or objects that are put into the
child's mouth. Less commonly, the viruses are passed through respiratory
secretions or mouth-to-mouth contact.
Factors that put a person at risk for the disease include:
age less than 5 years
crowded living conditions