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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease FAQs

What is it?

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a mild illness caused by the coxsackie virus. It usually occurs in children under 10 years of age but adult cases are not unusual. It occurs in summer and early fall.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms occur 3-5 days after contact with the virus. There is sudden onset with fever, sore throat and small greyish-like sores in the mouth. Similar sores may appear on the hands, feet and occasionally in the diaper area. The sores may last from 4-6 days.

When is it contagious?

It is contagious when the sores first appear and during the course of illness. Virus may remain in bowel movements for several weeks.

How is it spread?

It is spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions, such as when sneezing, coughing, kissing, and sharing dishes. It is also spread by contact with the bowel movements of infected people, e.g. when diapering.

How can it be prevented?

Good personal hygiene is very important. Wash hands thoroughly:

  • before eating or preparing food
  • after going to the toilet
  • after handling items soiled with bowel movements or saliva, e.g. Kleenex, diapers, clothing

Teach children to cover their mouth when they sneeze and cough. Wash dishes and cutlery in hot soapy water to prevent spread of infection.

Should children be kept home?

Children may return to school or day nursery if they are well enough to take part in routine activities. Sick children should be kept home.


Heymann, D. L. (2008). Control of Communicable Disease Manual (19thEd). Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Fact Sheet printable pdf

Need More Information About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease FAQs?

Talk to your health care provider or call our Communicable Disease Program at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349.

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


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