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Friday, April 20, 2012

Tough new strain of hand, foot and mouth virus hitting U.S.

Via USA Today :

" Worried parents are phoning their pediatricians, fearful of the spread of a nasty new strain of hand, foot and mouth virus, a common childhood disease.

It hit Alabama last month, is in Northern California now and may be headed to a day care near you soon.

The hand, foot and mouth virus that usually causes a slight fever and a rash on the palms in toddlers is called coxsackie A16. The new variant, A6, was first reported in the United States in December. It can hit kids and adults hard, causing fingernails and toenails to fall off two to three weeks after the illness has passed.

The variant swept Alabama in March, state epidemiologist Mary McIntyre said. "We've had 15 people hospitalized," she said. Some cases included "severe fevers, seizures, headaches, severe diarrhea and vomiting." The oldest patient was 69.

There is no treatment.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is no relation to hoof and mouth disease, an animal illness.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that some victims have been hospitalized for severe pain. The virus is highly contagious. Writing on a parent e-mail list, one San Francisco mom said her toddler infected every child but one in her preschool."

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