Thursday, August 9, 2007

Foot-n'-Mouth Diseases

I often suffer from "foot-in-mouth" disease, but that isn't what is plaguing the British cattle industry. It's foot and mouth disease (FMD). It is also not hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). Cartoon credit.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease (FIMD) is an unintentional act of tactlessness or an uttered faux pas. To minimize these gaffes, it is often good to follow a "24-hour rule"--if you suspect you are about to utter a faux pas, tell the person "I'll have a better answer tomorrow." or just bite your tongue. Don't get caught thinking "as long as I'm telling the truth, I can say whatever I want". It is best to build in some kind of delay that allows emotional discipline which will help stifle tactless remarks. If you don't you may find yourself, the recipient of the "Foot-in-Mouth Award".

Foot-and-mouth disease is a severe, highly communicable viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. FMD is not recognized as a zoonotic disease. The United States has been free of FMD since 1929, when the last of nine U.S. outbreaks was eradicated. The disease is characterized by fever and blister-like lesions followed by erosions on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves. Many affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated. It causes severe losses in the production of meat and milk. Because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic as well as clinical consequences, FMD is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness of infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters. HFMD begins with a mild fever, poor appetite, malaise ("feeling sick"), and frequently a sore throat. One or 2 days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. The skin rash develops over 1 to 2 days with flat or raised red spots, some with blisters. The rash does not itch, and it is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also appear on the buttocks. A person with HFMD may have only the rash or the mouth ulcers.

Viruses from the group called enteroviruses (most commonly coxsackievirus A16) cause HFMD. HFMD caused by coxsackievirus A16 infection is a mild disease and nearly all patients recover without medical treatment in 7 to 10 days. Complications are uncommon. HFMD is moderately contagious. Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons. A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness. HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals. No specific treatment is available for this or other enterovirus infections. Symptomatic treatment is given to provide relief from fever, aches, or pain from the mouth ulcers.
Preventive measures include frequent handwashing, especially after diaper changes, cleaning of contaminated surfaces and soiled items first with soap and water, and then disinfecting them by diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach (made by mixing approximately ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Avoidance of close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children with HFMD may also help to reduce of the risk of infection to caregivers.

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