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Reports show early uptick of contagious hand, foot and mouth virus

Courtesy of Children First

Recent reports show an early uptick in hand, foot and mouth disease.

The Kent County Health Department is seeing an increase of cases of the highly contagious virus, which normally occurs in August.

The virus is most common in children and is spread similarly to the common cold. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and sores on the mouth, hands and feet.

Lisa LaPlante represents the Kent County Health Department. She says the uptick could be attributed to public pools and playgrounds.

"The virus is spread through fecal matter, so if a child gets into a swimming pool and hasn't been thoroughly cleaned, that virus can spread in the water that they're swimming in."

LaPlante says the virus is usually easily treated, but it can become serious if patients don't take precautions.

"The biggest problem with this is that if you suffer from a lose of appetite, nausea or vomiting you can actually end up suffering from dehydration," she said. "And we know dehydration can cause a whole host of other problems, especially in children."

The virus does not have a vaccine, but LaPlante says it can be prevented by good hygiene.

This virus should not be confused with foot and mouth disease, also known as hoof and mouth disease, which is an unrelated livestock virus.

– Alyse Guenther, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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