Hand, foot and mouth disease is a self-limiting condition affecting children. It is caused by the intestinal viruses of the Picornaviridae family (most commonly coxsackie A16 and enterovirus 71). It is very contagious and typically occurs in outbreaks at nursery


  • Incidence: 100.00 cases per 100,000 person-years
  • Peak incidence: 1-5 years
  • Sex ratio: 1:1
<1 1-5 6+ 16+ 30+ 40+ 50+ 60+ 70+ 80+

Clinical features

Clinical features
  • mild systemic upset: sore throat, fever
  • oral ulcers
  • followed later by vesicles on the palms and soles of the feet

© Image used on license from DermNet NZ

© Image used on license from DermNet NZ


  • symptomatic treatment only: general advice about hydration and analgesia
  • reassurance no link to disease in cattle
  • children do not need to be excluded from school
    • the HPA recommends that children who are unwell should be kept off school until they feel better
    • they also advise that you contact them if you suspect that there may be a large outbreak.