Hand-Foot-Mouth Virus Spreads in Middle Tennessee Amid Flu Season

As the nation grapples with rising cases of COVID-19 and flu, Middle Tennessee is confronting an outbreak of the highly contagious Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. This viral infection, typically common in children under five, is raising concerns due to its recent spread among adults in the region.

The Case of Brett Wolfe
Brett Wolfe, a 29-year-old resident of Murfreesboro, recently experienced firsthand the discomfort and challenges posed by this disease. Waking up with a high fever and chills, Wolfe initially tested negative for COVID, strep, and the flu. The diagnosis became clear when red spots on his hands and feet began to multiply, leading a family member and nurse to identify the signs of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease.

Symptoms and Contagious Nature
Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is known for causing sores and blisters in the mouth, and red spots and blisters on the hands and feet. “It is extremely contagious,” Wolfe noted, describing his ordeal with hundreds of blisters over five days. Adults, like Wolfe, can experience additional symptoms such as fever and body aches.

Transmission and Vulnerability
Dr. Joseph Gigante, a Professor of Pediatrics at Monroe Carroll, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, explains that while the virus predominantly affects children, adults are not immune. Transmission can occur through direct contact with an infected child’s blisters or through coughing. Wolfe suspects he contracted the virus from a co-worker’s toddler who visited his workplace.

Health Risks and Lack of Cure
The primary health concern, particularly in children, is the painful nature of mouth blisters leading to reduced food and water intake, which can result in dehydration. Currently, there is no specific cure for the virus, and the symptoms usually resolve on their own. Treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and maintaining hydration.

Prevention Measures
Prevention is key in controlling the spread of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. Dr. Gigante stresses the importance of thorough hand-washing and cleaning of surfaces. Wolfe, a father to a three-month-old, underscores the need for caution, especially around those known to be infected.

Community Alert
This outbreak in Middle Tennessee serves as a reminder of the persistent threat posed by viral infections beyond the widely known COVID-19 and flu. Public health officials are urging communities to be vigilant, practice good hygiene, and seek medical advice if symptoms of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease appear.

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The spread of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Middle Tennessee adds another layer of challenge to the ongoing public health concerns. Understanding the symptoms, modes of transmission, and the importance of prevention can help mitigate the spread of this uncomfortable and highly contagious virus. As Wolfe’s experience shows, awareness and caution are crucial in navigating this outbreak, especially in communities with young children.

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