Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease cases on the rise

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KENT COUNTY, Mich. — There is an increase of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease cases in Kent County as of June. Though many cases go unreported, Kent County Health Department data shows since the start of June, 28 patients 8 years old and younger have gone to emergency departments with HFMD symptoms; two more just this week.

Thursday, FOX 17 spoke with one Rockford family whose two youngest children are dealing with the painful symptoms.

“We feel it’s like the new Chicken Pox," said Jenny Quakenbush, mother of three.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious virus that is typically contracted among children 5 years old and younger, and is common to see an uptick in summertime and early fall.

Showing her 2-year-old's blistered feet, Quakenbush pointed out his red bumpy rash turned into small blisters. First the virus usually starts with a fever, then the red bumps, then blisters on the palms of hands, soles of feet and inside the mouth, which can be painful and cause a sore throat.

Quakenbush noticed over the weekend that her son was "drooling and not eating much." She said last Wednesday her children were playing with friends at park. Then last weekend the symptoms began in her two youngest.

"Now I mean I saw he had a fever, then one or two spots and I was like, 'he's getting it,'" said Quakenbush. "It progressively got worse and worse, then she showed the signs. It's just no fun for them."

The virus spreads quickly through mucus, saliva or contact with the blisters' fluid, even in stool--which the virus can live in feces for up to 11 weeks.

With an uptick in cases, it's a reminder to cover your cough, disinfect surfaces and wash your hands.

“I don’t recommend isolating your kids beyond the time that they have the fever or the blisters," said Brian Hartl, epidemiology supervisor with the Kent County Health Department. "But with that, it’s most highly transmitted in that first week of illness. So once those symptoms stop, you know your kids can go out and play again.”

Hartl also stresses for anyone infected to drink plenty of water, despite the sore throat, to avoid dehydration especially in this heat.

Although the virus typically affects young children, FOX 17 also spoke with Lauren Hoekstra of Grand Rapids who said she and her husband suffered painful HFMD several years ago.

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