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Infectious Diseases 2023

Foot-and-mouth disease: what é, symptoms and treatment

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Foot-and-mouth disease: what é, symptoms and treatment
Foot-and-mouth disease: what é, symptoms and treatment

Foot-and-mouth disease in humans is a rare infectious disease caused by a virus of the Aphthovirus genus that can arise when unpasteurized milk from contaminated animals is consumed. This disease is more common in rural areas and children, the elderly and individuals with low immunity are the most susceptible to infection.

Foot-and-mouth disease can be perceived through the appearance of lesions on the skin, in the mouth and between the fingers, in addition to high fever and muscle pain, for example.

Transmission occurs mainly through direct contact with the animal infected with the virus responsible for the disease, but it can also happen through ingestion of unpasteurized milk, consumption of meat from a contaminated animal and contact with secretions such as milk, semen, phlegm or sneezing can transmit foot-and-mouth disease to humans.

Main symptoms

The symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease in humans can appear up to 5 days after contact with the virus, the main ones being:

  • Inflammation of the mouth;
  • Canker sores in the mouth;
  • Wounds on the skin and between the fingers;
  • High fever;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Headache;
  • Excessive thirst.

The symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease usually subside after 3 or 5 days. However, in more advanced cases, the infection can cause other problems and reach the throat and lungs, causing serious complications and even death.

The diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease is made through physical examination, evaluation of lesions in the mouth and blood tests to detect the presence of infection.

How is the treatment

Treatment for foot-and-mouth disease in humans is not specific, and the treatment of symptoms is usually recommended through the use of drugs to relieve pain and lower fever, such as Paracetamol, which should be used every 8 hours.

In addition to medication, it is recommended to clean the wounds properly with soap and water and apply a healing ointment, as it can promote healing. The duration of the disease is an average of 15 days, with symptoms disappearing after this period.

How the transmission happens

Transmission of the virus responsible for foot-and-mouth disease to humans is rare, but it can happen through the consumption of milk or meat from contaminated animals, without any type of food processing having been carried out. The foot-and-mouth disease virus normally only causes infection in humans when the immune system is compromised, since under normal conditions, the body is able to fight the virus.

Eating the meat of an animal contaminated with FMD is not ideal, but it can rarely cause FMD in humans, especially if the meat has been frozen or processed beforehand.

In addition, the transmission of foot-and-mouth disease can also happen when a person has an open wound on the skin and this wound comes into contact with the secretions of the infected animal, such as feces, urine, blood, phlegm, sneezing, milk or semen.

Thus, to prevent foot-and-mouth disease virus infection in humans, it is important to avoid contact with infected animals, drink unpasteurized milk and contaminated meat. If there is a suspicion of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in animals close to the individual's place of work or residence, the slaughter of the animals is recommended. In addition, foot-and-mouth disease does not pass from person to person, so there is no need for isolation.

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