A Blind Spot – HFMD
Three years on, I can still remember clearly the day my little boy caught the fearsome hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) disease.
My husband and I had just returned from work that evening when we noticed that we missed our typically rambunctious three-year-old’s large smile along with his usual, loud greetings of “Mummy!” and “”Daddy”. Instead, we found him sitting quietly on the sofa, looking lethargic, as though every ounce of energy had been zapped right out of him. “He’s unusually quiet,” I remarked to the hubs.
Sensing something amiss, we checked him for fever. Yup, his temperature was running over 38 deg C and he didn’t even look at his dinner.
“What are these tiny bumps?” I pointed to his knees.
My little one gave me a puzzled look. “Don’t know,” was his reply.
Must be insect bites, but why so many of them? I quizzed him.
Then it struck me, “Bed bugs!”
I proceeded to inspect his beddings (and everyone else’s!) and searched the entire house for those pesky, little critters but none were to be found. A couple of hours later, my boy showed me his hands. “Look, mummy, see the spots. And my mouth hurts.”
True, there were red blisters on his little palms and more had appeared on his soles. A lump came to my throat. How could I have missed it? And all this while, my thoughts only centred around one thing – bed bugs!
So, what did I do next? Before leaving to see the doctor, I gave my domestic helper specific instructions that the entire house was to be sanitised and washed down, including the children’s toys and the nursery.
The visit to the doctor confirmed it was HFMD, caused by the Coxsackievirus A16. It spreads from the faecal-oral route or when one comes in contact with an infected person’s saliva, nasal and throat discharges or fluid that oozes out of the blisters. There’s no specific treatment for HFMD so he prescribed some medication for the fever, pain and inflammation.
We suspected that the virus was picked up from either the shopping centre or the Taekwando session that my son attended at that time – these were the only two public places we had brought him out that week. We knew that he couldn’t have picked it up at playschool, as we later learnt that he was the only one down with this dreadful virus. And because HFMD spreads easily from one child to another, the doctor’s advice? Stay at home for the next 10 days.
Since we had another child who was a little over a year old at that time, we spared no efforts in caring for him in a separate room, away from his sick sibling. It was an uphill task keeping them apart, but one of utmost importance, despite the youngest one constantly crying out seeking for a playmate. It was heartbreaking to watch, yet necessary.
As I do not wish to risk falling ill with HFMD, I constantly reminded everyone to wash and sanitise their hands before eating and drinking. I also made sure that my child doesn’t share items such as eating utensils, cups or towels while he is ill, and to disinfect any contaminated items and surfaces.
HFMD not only affects infants and young children, it affects adults, too, as this had been the case where several colleagues of mine had the misfortune of coming into contact with it. I’ve heard all kinds of stories, ranging from high fevers to sleepless nights due to painful ulcers in the throat and itchy red patches on the hands and feet.
We tried our best to keep our little boy as comfortable as possible, putting him on a liquid diet and applying calamine lotion to ease his itchiness. As the days wore on, it became much easier to care for him. His appetite grew better and the blisters dried up with intermittent itching.
Two weeks later, the doctor finally gave the green light that he could go back to play school. Not only was my boy extremely happy to see his classmates again, we were glad that no one fell sick after the HFMD episode.
Caroline Francis has been a sub-editor and writer for over 20 years. She spent 12 years working with an awesome team at IT Publications where she was the assistant chief sub-editor for its technology pullout.
Read more about her.https://www.babyclub.com.sg/blind-spot-hfmd/https://www.babyclub.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/hfmd-baby-1024x683.jpghttps://www.babyclub.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/hfmd-baby-150x150.jpgBabyFeaturedThree years on, I can still remember clearly the day my little boy caught the fearsome hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) disease.My husband and I had just returned from work that evening when we noticed that we missed our typically rambunctious three-year-old’s large smile along with his usual, loud...Caroline FrancisCaroline Franciscaroline@babyclub.com.sgAuthorBaby Club Singapore