Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease


What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by a group of viruses called coxsackie virus. It is spread from one person to another by sneezing or coughing, or through contact with saliva, mucous or stool of an infected person. The virus can survive in stool for several weeks. 

Hand, Foot and Mouth disease is a common infection in child care settings; however, it is not a reportable disease in Ontario.

Symptoms usually start with a mild fever, poor appetite, fatigue and a sore throat.

  • Painful sores develop in the mouth one or two days after the fever. Sores can be found on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks and usually become ulcers.
  • After the mouth sores appear, a skin rash and possibly blisters appear. The rash does not itch and is usually located on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease should not be confused with foot and mouth disease seen in pigs, sheep and cattle. These diseases are not related and are caused by different viruses.

Infections occur more frequently when hygiene is poor and also during summer and early fall.

A person is contagious for about 7-10 days during the stage of acute illness.

Managing Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: What to do

Although there is no specific treatment for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, the risk of infection can be lowered by good hygiene practices:

  • Proper hand washing: make sure hands are properly washed after using the toilet, changing diapers, wiping a child’s nose, before preparing food, etc.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting washroom surfaces and all hand contact surfaces
  • Staying home when ill
  • Not sharing eating and drinking utensils
  • Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands


Quick Reference

A child can attend school or child care if they feel well enough to take part in activities.