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What Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD

What exactly is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a type of coxsackievirus infection that causes sores on the tongue and inside the cheeks, and small blisters on the hands and feet. Some kids suddenly develop fever of 101–104° degrees Fahrenheit (38.5–40° Celsius), headache, and muscle aches. Others also develop a mild sore throat, abdominal discomfort, or nausea. It's common in kids but transmission can be avoided with thorough hand washing.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is different from foot and mouth disease that livestock carry. Although they have similar names, the two diseases are caused by different viruses and aren't related.

For more information, check out these articles:
Coxsackievirus Infections
Why Is Hand Washing So Important?

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Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: June 2007