Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease may be linked to pools

Doctors say the water can sometimes help spread a highly contagious disease that's especially a problem for toddlers

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - The summer heat has lots of kids and families heading to the pool to stay cool.

But doctors say the water can sometimes help spread a highly contagious disease that's especially a problem for toddlers.

Mom, Brooke Mailhiot, noticed after a dip in the baby pool her 9-month-old son Chase just wasn't his normal, happy self.

Mailhiot said, "Didn't want to play with his toys, loss of appetite... he started getting a small little rash on his arm later that night we took his temperature at 102.7."

He was diagnosed with coxsackie virus, commonly known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) because of the red rash on the hands and feet and sores in the mouth.

Houston pediatrician Dr. Debra Cutler with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic told Local 2, "There's been a newer one the past couple of years though that also the rash spreads to the arms, to the legs, around the trunk, the mouth, buttocks and that one tends to have higher fevers."

Spread through saliva and fecal matter, the virus can live on a plastic toy for hours and can easily be spread to another child who puts that toy in their mouth.

Very rarely, contaminated pool water can be a source.

Dr. Cutler explained, "If they've cleaned out the pool, but they haven't used enough chlorine to totally get it disinfected. but usually when I've gone to pools, kids are all together anyways. So I think a lot of it, besides being at the pool, is being around other children and getting it spread that way."

Dr. Cutler said the virus usually lasts about a week.

The biggest concern is dehydration.

"I don't care how they get liquids into them whether it's by syringe or by spoon or whether it's a popsicle. But just continue to give them liquids so that they don't get dehydrated because that's what makes them end up in the emergency room," Dr. Cutler said.

Dr. Cutler said HFMD can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Liquid antacids can help soothe and coat the sores in the mouth.

Because HFMD is so contagious, doctors say it can be difficult to prevent.

Frequent hand washing and wiping down toys can certainly help.

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