Um, What is Hoof and Mouth Disease?

I have never heard of hoof and mouth disease until the doctor diagnosed my youngest son over the phone.  I frantically dialed our on-call pediatrician Monday morning after sores and blisters popped up all over his mouth, tongue and throat during the holiday weekend.  She said I didn’t need to take him to the emergency room as long as he was eating and drinking, but instructed I should bring him to the office first thing Tuesday morning so his regular doctor could confirm the diagnosis. 

After hoof and mouth left her lips, I pretty much didn’t hear another word.  She sounded like the teacher you hear but never see on those Charlie Brown cartoon specials.  Every time the bald little boy wearing that goofy yellow t-shirt with the zig zag brown stripe asked for help on his homework, the viewer never understood what she was saying.

Me:  “Um, What is hoof and mouth disease?”

Doctor:  “Waht, wah, wahh, wahh, waht.”

Me:  “I’m sorry.  What is it?”

Doctor:  “Waht, like the flu, wah, wahh, with blisters, waht, very contagious.”

Me:  “So, there’s nothing I can do to prevent my other son from getting it?”

Doctor:  “Waht, wah, wahh, wahh, waht,  no.”

Me:  “How long is it going to last?  It’s already been nearly a week.”

Doctor:  “Waht, usually, wahh, wahh, 10 days.”

After the initial shock wore off, I tried to conentrate on the conversation a little better.  The doctor went on to say hoof and mouth disease is extremely common and that all babies and toddlers get it.  She even said she was surprised neither Latham or Reichen had contracted the virus before now.

I made my husband take Latham Tuesday morning for the official diagnosis.  I couldn’t stand to hear the doctor say hoof and mouth disease again.  David said as soon as the doctor walked in the exam room, he said it:   hoof and mouth. 

As soon as I put the boys down for their afternoon nap, I hopped on the world wide web to research this nasty little disease further and here’s just some of the fun I found:


According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, Hoof and Mouth Disease, a.k.a. Hand, Foot, and Mouth, is a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus.

Here’s the part that gets me:  there’s no specific treatment for this disease.  I just have to watch my little boy suffer.  The website suggests you can reduce the risk of infection by practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands often and thoroughly.

I am an admitted freak show hand washer.  In fact, I wash their hands so often and so thoroughly that I’m surprised they have hands left to wash.  If my boys can get this horrible virus, anyone can.

 It will be one week today that Latham has been battling hoof and mouth disease.  Reichen just started his fever yesterday, which means the sores will be showing up any day now.  If my time line is correct, we will  be dealing with this disease for about 3 weeks before the boys are better.

Fun times ahead.  Fun.

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2 Responses to “Um, What is Hoof and Mouth Disease?”

  1. tove balas says:

    We are planning web site on how to keep children well in the day care centers. So far we have a FB-site: «Smittevern i barnehagen». Would it be possible for us to borrow the picture from this blog to illustrate a comment on hand, foot and mouth disease?
    Best wishes from Tove Balas

  2. Nina says:

    I feel so bad for all of you. Hopefully Latham will be feeling better by the time Reichen gets all cranky. Good article, I like your reference to Charlie Brown, that is exactly what happens when you hear “bad” news…nothing else penetrates your mind.