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Hand, foot and mouth disease

Scott has hand, foot and mouth disease

There are some diseases that are not very common in Western Europe or the USA anymore, but that still have regular outbreaks in Asia. One example is hand, foot and mouth disease, a contagious viral disease that normally only affects children below 5 years of age.

Last week Sunday Elaine suddenly got a high fever and when my wife on Monday morning saw some red spots in her mouth she took Elaine to see a doctor right away. On the way home she called me to say that Elaine had hand, foot and mouth disease… Up to that point I had never even heard about the illness. I initially thought it was similar to hoof-and-mouth disease, but that turned out to be something completely different (hoof-and-mouth is an animal disease only).

Because the virus illness is contagious we immediately went to Scott’s school and took him home. My wife then told me that at Scott’s school a whole class had been quarantined a week earlier because of this disease, but it had apparently spread. We had to keep Scott and Elaine separate at home, in order to avoid a potential contamination of Scott. That was not easy, the kids always play together and now Elaine had her own playroom upstairs and Scott had to play alone downstairs.

Elaine got pretty sick from the hand, food and mouth, and soon started to develop blister-like sores in her mouth, on her hands and on her feet. Especially the ones in her mouth were very painful, and she refused to eat or drink anything because it hurt so much. It’s impossible to force a 2 year old to eat or drink when it hurts, but because toddlers dehydrate quickly we had to find a solution. Eventually she drank some milk, but it was a major effort for us.

On Wednesday night I was in a business dinner when Grace called me, because Scott also started to develop sores on his hands… So the next morning both kids went back to the hospital and it turned out that Scott had also been infected. He was not in pain yet and when I talked to him at night he almost seemed proud to also have it. The doctor also looked at Elaine again and told us that she was one of the most severe cases she had ever seen. Scary to hear that, she is such a small girl and as a parent you want to protect her from pain and suffering as much as possible. But there is not much you can do except for waiting. The doctor also told us that she had to report the cases to the government and that it was likely that people would come to our house to check whether the kids had been quarantined.

Later on Thursday Elaine’s situation suddenly started to improve. By Friday she started eating almost normally again which made me quite happy. And Scott was still playing happily without complaining. He did not have fever and just had some sores, and we hoped that would be it. But on Friday afternoon Scott suddenly started crying while eating, the sores in his mouth were very painful and he was not able to eat anything anymore. Luckily he could still drink and we also found that soft things like yoghurt and pudding were not as painful.

So for the past 2 days Scott has been eating chocolate pudding (he loves it!) and nothing else. I took him to the French bakery this morning (breaking his quarantine, I realize it now that I write it here) where he bough a croissant. But when he tried to eat it he was screaming from pain again. Poor boy.

He seems to be getting better soon now though, and I hope in 1 or 2 days both kids will be fine. A bit scary, especially because you don’t know how serious the disease is and how much worse it will get. But it seems both will be okay and hopefully we can still go on holiday with the kids at the end of this week.

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