Hand, foot, mouth disease spreading in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hand, foot, mouth disease spreading in Iowa

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Iowa doctors are seeing more cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in children.  The outbreak started in central Iowa, but pediatricians in this area have seen dozens of cases in the past couple of weeks.  Experts say warm weather could be helping the virus spread.

On a beautiful day, kids at Happy Time Preschool and Daycare in Waterloo are enjoying riding on scooters, pint-sized cars, and trikes.

Every toy kids use at the center is on a cleaning schedule to keep items disinfected, limiting the spread of germs.

"An extra ounce of precaution sometimes is worth it to make sure our kids and families stay healthy," said Mark Stuenkel with Happy Time.

Teachers are also routinely wiping down classroom surfaces and kids constantly wash their hands.

"We make sure when the kids are done playing, when done going to the bathroom, just before they eat, that they're washing their hands with warm, hot soapy water," Stuenkel said.

Those practices are extra important when illnesses like hand, foot and mouth disease are spreading in Iowa.  It's most common in kids under age 10, and is most easily spread when kids touch infected toys or put them in their mouths.

"It usually starts with cough, congestion, sometimes a fever.  Then it evolves into small, painful red sores in the mouth, genitalia, buttocks, hands, feet--hence the name hand, foot and mouth disease," said Dr. Benjamin Davidson, Covenant Clinic pediatrician.

Luckily, most kids recover in just a few days.

"Unfortunately, there are no medications that can make the virus go away.  But there are things you can do to alleviate symptoms, including painful swallowing and fever, using Tylenol or Motrin, depending on the age, and allowing the child to have cold fluids," Dr. Davidson said.

Experts recommend you keep kids home while they're sick.  While at home, frequently clean toys and practice good hand washing to limit spreading the sickness.

It's also a good idea to thoroughly wash your kids' hands after they use public surfaces like playgrounds or indoor play areas to further limit the spread of germs.

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