City doctors have warned parents not to confuse hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) with chicken pox, as the symptoms of both ailments appear similar.
In the last fortnight paediatricians have got increasing cases of children suffering from HFMD, most below five years of age.
Dr Pankaj Parekh, consultant paediatrician, Saifee Hospital, Grant Road has been treating between 12 and 15 children with HFMD daily for the past two weeks. “Children suffer from rashes and develop water filled boils on the limbs and mouth region. As the disease has become common only in the last two years, most parents confuse it with chicken pox and end up coming late to the hospital,” said Dr Parekh.
One-year-old Soham Shingde from Vashi developed the rashes overnight.“ We thought it was chicken pox but the doctor told us it was HFMD,” said Soham’s father Gyaneshwar.
Doctors said that hot and humid weather is conducive to the growth and the transmission of a group of viruses classified as enteroviruses, which cause HFMD. According to Dr Rohit Agarwal, a paediatrician who runs a clinic in Ghatkopar, a sudden spurt of HFMD cases is more common during this part of the year, when the monsoon is receding.
“We see a dozen cases daily; this year we are also seeing throat infection along with rashes. As the disease is contagious, parents should not send children with symptoms to school and tuition classes,” said Dr V Yewale, who runs a children’s hospital in Vashi.
“Even before the rashes appear, the child can pass on the infection and may have already done so. Hence, we are seeing a huge number of cases. The present virus that we are seeing does not lead to any major complications. In other countries, HFMD leads to infection in the brain,” said Dr Nitin Shah, pediatrician, PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim.