Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Symptoms: 'Miserable Virus' Spreading in Missouri

A Missouri mother has urged parents to monitor their children for hand, foot, and mouth disease, amid fears the debilitating condition—which usually affects children—could spread to adults.

Chewanna Prak told NBC 12 a child in her daughter's school class in St. Louis fell ill with the condition, but parents weren't alerted and the youth wasn't taken out of class.

"If you're sick, keep your kids at home. No one else wants to go through that, I especially don't as a parent," said Prak.

The enterovirus family of viruses is the culprit behind hand, foot and mouth disease. Mostly it affects children, but the virus can spread to adults, too.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common condition among young children. Getty Images

When a person is infected with the virus, their symptoms will change as it develops.

A fever, loss of appetite, a sore throat and a general sense of malaise will strike first. About a day later, painful red sores will form in the mouth, while flat, red spots will appear on the hands, soles of the feet, elbows, knees, genitalia and buttocks.

Just last week New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard found himself on the disabled list after coming down with hand, foot and mouth disease.

Unfortunately for sufferers, there is currently no cure for the condition and it must simply be left to run its course. This can take up to 10 days. Painkillers can be taken to ease the discomfort and lower the fever, while mouthwash can be used to numb the mouth.

"It's a miserable virus," Dr. Melissa Aquilo of Patient First told NBC 12.

Read more: Five healthy habits for mothers that could cut their child's risk of becoming obese: Harvard study

The majority of individuals with hand, foot and mouth disease recover without complications. But in some cases aseptic meningitis and encephalitis can develop. In such instances, urgent medical help must be sought, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread when contagious nose and throat fluids, feces or liquid from the blisters touch the eyes, mouth or nose. The virus is also through close contact, including changing a baby's diapers and hugging. Inhaling an infected person's sneeze or cough is another mode of transmission.

That makes it particularly easy for the virus to spread among children, said Dr. Aquilo.

"They share their toys. Their toys have their germs on. They don't wash their hands as well as most adults should…[If they] put a toy in their mouth and set the toy down and another child plays with it, we'll see a little outbreak in daycares in that kind of situation," she said.

It's therefore important to wash hands and practice good hygiene at all times, as some carriers don't experience symptoms but can still pass the condition on.