Hand, foot and mouth disease spiking in Kentucky

Local health providers are seeing more cases of hand, foot and mouth disease, also known as coxsackievirus.

The virus gets its name from small red sores that often appear in the mouth and rashes that appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It’s made national headlines in recent weeks after two Major League Baseball players contracted the disease after appearing at a kids’ baseball camp. In addition to Kentucky, outbreaks have been reported in Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

“We’ve certainly seen an influx,” said Meredith K. Irwin, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates. “The virus really seems to be making the rounds at day care centers.”

Hand, foot and mouth symptoms

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Hand, foot and mouth disease can be spread through kissing, hugging, or sharing food and drinks. The disease also can be transmitted through coughs, sneezes or contact with germs from a baby’s diaper. The usual period from initial infection to onset of signs and symptoms is three to six days.

A fever often is the first sign, followed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite and general sick feeling. Body sores develop a few days later.

There’s no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease, but Dr. Irwin says there are steps to limit exposure.

“Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who are infected may help reduce you and your child’s risk of infection,” she said. “And if your child is displaying the symptoms, keep them home.”

Hand, foot and mouth disease may cause all of the following signs and symptoms, or just some of them. They include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Feeling of being unwell (malaise)
  • Painful red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks
  • A red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
  • Irritability in infants and toddlers
  • Loss of appetite


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