May 14, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Rotorua sees outbreak of Hand Foot & Mouth disease amongst tamariki

3 min read

A localised outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth (HFM) disease is being seen in Rotorua. HFM is a virus that is in the family of Coxsackie viruses which live in the human digestive tract.

It can resemble Chicken Pox in that it gives symptoms of fever often followed by a sore throat and then spots inside the mouth and red blisters on the palms and soles and sometimes on the buttocks.

Several daycares have been hit in the city with one sending as many as six children home today. General Practitioner, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Dr Lisa Hughes of Hinemoa House in Rotorua says

once a child has it, there is not much you can do about it, other then keep them home and treat symptoms like fevers”. She went on to say if tamariki do become dehydrated or seem sicker then usual or “floppy” to have them seen right away.

hfm1Dehydration is the most common complication seen with this childhood illness as the sores inside children’s mouth can cause enough pain to put them off drinking. GPs also stress bland foods being best while tamariki were sick and to keep away from salty and/or acidic foods and drinks.

HFM is a common infection amongst young people, striking under twos most usually and under 10s generally. Adults most likely will have some resistance to the virus.

So whanau, if you suspect your tamariki has HFM, get them straight to the Doctors and if confirmed, take them out of Kohanga and Kura, as it is highly contagious. If you have any experience with HFM, please post comments below. Our girl, Hiona is home for the week, she had no temperature, broke out in blisters on her hands, feet and bum and of coruse is lively as ever, albeit more grumpy then usual with sleepless nights, ahhh parenthood!

Mauri ora!

Nikolasa, Potaua, Atutahi & Hiona

Background Information:

Hand foot mouth

  • Hand, Foot and Mouth is a viral illness that causes fever, painful blisters in the throat and mouth, and sometimes on the hands, feet and the bottom.
  • These virusesare usually passed from person to person through unwashed hands and via surfaces which have the viruses on them. They can also be spread through sneezing and coughing.
  • It is more common to catch them from someone when they are in the early stages of their illness.
  • Although anyone is at risk of becoming infected, children are generally more susceptible.
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth is more common in Summer and Autumn and there is no immunisation.

Symptoms of hand, footand mouth

  • Some children who have the infection show no symptoms.
  • Some childrendevelop a high fever which may last several days.
  • And for other children, the fever may be there one day and gone the next, only to return later in the illness.
  • There is a typical rash which occurs. Small greyish-coloured blisters can occur on the palms of hands, soles of feet and inside the mouth on the childs throat, tongue, gums and cheeks.
  • Most children feel better within 7-10 days.

Apart from causing Hand, Foot and Mouth, theseviruses can cause more serious infections of the muscles, brain, heart and eyes.

Diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth

You should call or see your doctor immediately if your child develops any of the following symptoms:

  • Rashes and blisters
  • Mouth sores
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble feeding
  • Pains in the chest or tummy
  • Headache

Treatment of hand, foot and mouth

Antibiotics are not effective it is a viral infection. Most children with Hand, Food and Mouth recover completely after a few days resting at home. Plenty of fluids help ice blocks are excellent. Fever and discomfort can be helped with a childrens pain relief.

Helpful articles

  • For information on how to help your child with a Sore Throat, click here
  • Fever, the symptoms and how to help your child are all covered in this Kiwi Families article.
  • Invalid food, by our nutrition expert Fiona Boyle, gives you great ideas for keeping up the energy levels in sick kids.
  • Read about Chicken Pox if you wish to compare the two conditions.


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