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Virus causing kids problems late in year

By Courtney Orton | Posted - Dec. 2, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Doctors usually see respiratory viruses at this point in the year, but another fairly common virus is making an unusual appearance. It mainly affects kids, and it spreads before you even know you have it.

It starts with a fever that can last a few days. There are rarely other symptoms until day two or three when the sores associated with hand, foot and mouth disease show up.

He's better now, but when 11-month-old Staten came down with a fever, his mom Brooklyn Laybourne thought he might just be teething. A few days later, she noticed bumps all over his hands and feet, as well as sores in his mouth.

"The hardest part for me (were) the lesions that he got in his mouth because he wouldn't eat," Laybourne said.

Staten's pediatrician diagnosed him with hand, foot mouth disease, a contagious virus that his cousin had a week earlier.

Generally, the virus is not seen this late in the year. Dr. Peter Lindgren, who treats kids at Memorial Clinic in Salt Lake, has seen an unusual number of kids with hand, foot and mouth disease in recent weeks.

Signs and symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash with very small blisters on hands, feet, and diaper area; may be tender or painful if pressed
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers in the throat (including tonsils), mouth, and tongue

Keep in mind:

  • The disease is found most often in people under 10 years old, but can affect others
  • Use Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain; aspirin should not be used for children with viral infections.
  • Rinsing the mouth with salt water may soothe pain for kids, if they can avoid swallowing the rinse.
  • Keep hydrated. Milk products are less likely to cause pain than acidic products like juices and sodas.

    Source: National Institute of Health

"Typically these are viruses we see from June to October. I guess one of the funny things is that we've seen some cases later on," Dr. Lindgren said.

He also said that symptoms were quite varied from person to person.

"People don't always get the same symptoms. One kid may have sores in the mouth and on the tongue and on the gums," Dr. Lindgren said. "Another kid may have more in the back of the throat, and then depending on the type of virus, you may actually get a rash."

The virus is tricky as well: it's possible to spread it before you know you have it.

"You may actually shed virus during that period while you're not terribly symptomatic, and you may shed virus for a week after," he said.

Antibiotics are useless for treating the virus. Generally it simply has to run its course. Treatment generally consists of managing the pain and keeping hydrated. Dr. Lindgren said the pain it causes in the mouth is usually the worst during the first two to three days.

Popsicles often help ease the pain as well as ibuprofen. It is also a good idea to stay away from other kids for a while to prevent infecting others. And some simple, common sense things are advisable as well.

"As usual, good handwashing is a very good idea. Being very careful after changing diapers, etc.," Dr. Lindgren said.

Email: [corton@ksl.com](<mailto: corton@ksl.com>)

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Courtney Orton

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