Encyclopedia Home / H / Hand-foot-mouth disease

Hand-foot-mouth disease

  • Definition

    Hand-foot-mouth disease is a relatively common infection viral infection that usually begins in the throat.

    A similar infection is herpangina.


    Alternative Names

    Coxsackievirus infection


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) is most commonly caused by coxsackievirus A16, a member of the enterovirus family.

    The disease is not spread from pets, but it can be spread by person to person. You may catch it if you come into direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stools of an infected person. You are most contagious the first week you have the disease.

    The time between infection and the development of symptoms is about 3 - 7 days.

    The most important risk factor is age. The infection occurs most often in children under age 10, but can be seen in adolescents and occasionally adults. The outbreaks occur most often in the summer and early fall.