Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common human syndrome caused by highly contagious intestinal viruses of the picornaviridae family typically characterized by a mild fever followed by a rash of flat discolored spots and bumps that may blister, involving the skin of the hands, feet, oral cavity, and occasionally buttocks and genitalia. HFMD mainly affects infants and children, but can occasionally occur in adults. Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of HFMD while enterovirus 71 (EV-71) is the second most common cause of HFMD. Many other strains of coxsackievirus or enterovirus are also known to cause this viral syndrome. The viruses that cause HFMD are spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, or feces of an infected person. HFMD often occurs in small epidemics in nursery schools or kindergartens, usually during the summer and autumn months. Signs and symptoms normally appear 3-6 days after exposure to the virus. The rash generally goes away on its own in about 1 week, and most cases require no treatment other than symptomatic relief. No antiviral treatment or vaccine is currently available for HFMD, but development efforts are underway. HFMD should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also known as hoof-and-mouth disease) which affects livestock. Foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a different picornavirus which almost never infects humans.
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