"Hand hygiene" important in hand, foot and mouth prevention, expert says

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) --- With a new school year, kids are once again at risk for being exposed to hand, foot and mouth disease.

Child with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease./(CBS)

According to the Mayo Clinic, hand, foot and mouth is a contagious viral infection that is most commonly found in kids. Here are a few symptoms of the disease:

• Sore throat
• Fever
• Fatigue
• Irritability in smaller children
• Loss of appetite
• Visible rash on the skin (specifically the insides of hands, soles of feet, and face
• Sores/ lesions on the mouth and tongue

Kids ages ten and younger typically become infected with the disease after being in close proximity with other infected children. The infection is most easily spread when children come in contact with the virus on their hands and put their hands in and around the mouth area.

"Its caused by several different viruses," Dr. Logan Williams with Knoxville Pediatric Associates Foothills said. "Its really common in daycare settings. Usually it's spread by saliva or kids with diarrhea."

There are ways to prevent your child from becoming infected with it by following simple hygiene steps.

• Kids- should wash their hands multiple times throughout the day, especially before eating
• Parents should wash hands before and after handling babies
• Teach kids to not share snack and drinks at school
• Use disinfectants on things like door knobs and table tops in classrooms

"Hand hygiene is going to be the most important," Williams said. "Washing your hands before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, after opening doors or touching lots of surfaces, is quick and easy. It's the best way to prevent infection."

If a child should become infected, parents are encouraged to keep kids at home and isolated from others, because the disease is contagious and can spread to other children quickly in classroom settings.

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