Hand, foot and mouth disease is an often misunderstood and unnecessarily feared disease due in part to some confusion with the animal disease, foot and mouth.
But rest assured hand, foot and mouth disease has nothing to do with cattle, it is a common virus typically suffered by young children and it is rarely serious.
That doesn’t mean that pregnant mother of two Kelly didn’t get the fright of her life when her kids were hit with a bout of hand, foot and mouth.
Fever all through the night
“He was really tired and quite lethargic so we tucked him into bed to rest,” said Kelly.
“After a couple of hours he woke up screaming saying he had a really bad headache and I could feel a bad fever too.”
Kelly quickly gave her boy some ibuprofen (Nurofen) and ran a cool bath to try and help bring his fever down but the fever was really knocking him around and the poor little man was having trouble staying awake.
“I had him in my arms in the bath and he was really floppy and kept falling asleep,” said Kelly.
“It was really quite a scary situation and nothing I did was helping his condition and so we jumped in the car and drove over to the hospital.
“When we got to the hospital there were a lot of people in the waiting room and a fairly long queue but I couldn’t wait any longer and pushed to the front.
“The staff could see that I was in need of some assistance and took us through straight away to find a doctor.
“Because I had already given him some medication there was nothing more the doctors could do but monitor him and make sure he stayed hydrated.
A speedy recovery
While the symptoms of the fever had been quite worrying for Kelly it was only a couple hours later and her son was almost back to his normal self.
“Once the fever had subsided he was like a different kid,” she said.
“There were three different consultants that came to check on my son to make sure it wasn’t anything more serious.
“The doctors couldn’t say definitively that he had hand, foot and mouth disease especially as he never developed the characteristic blisters or legions on his feet or hands but after three or four hours we were allowed to head home.”
Any doubt as to what her son might have been suffering was promptly erased. Three days after returning from the hospital, Kelly’s one and half year old daughter starting showing similar symptoms including the tell-tale lesions on her hands.
“The lesions were like nothing I had seen before so I took her straight down to the GP to have them checked out,” said Kelly.
“He confirmed that it was hand foot and mouth disease and that it was most likely caught from her brother.
Luckily for Kelly’s daughter she didn’t suffer as bad a fever as her brother but nevertheless Kelly said she had a hard time keeping the fever under control.
“We tried the same routine of ibuprofen, paracetamol and baths but her fever was really stubborn and wouldn’t let up,” she said.
“For both kids I set my alarm through the night to make sure their fever wasn’t spiking too high while they were asleep.”
Keep calm and carry on
Although hand, foot and mouth disease is not normally very serious, Kelly says that it was probably the worst illness her children have suffered, especially for her son. But despite the rather scary experience she wants to tell parents not to panic if they find themselves in the same situation.
“When your baby goes floppy or can’t stay awake due to a bad fever it can be very frightening but it is important for parents to stay as calm as possible and think clearly,” she said.
“If you are concerned in any way, don’t hesitate to take your kids into the hospital. Stay focussed and calm because it is dangerous to drive distracted and your children will be able to feel your fear.”