Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is supposedly on the rise, people are freaking out, a hashtag is trending, and experts are “begging” parents to keep it in check. I am shocked. Okay … not really, because anyone who knows anything about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease knows what causes it, what it used to be called way back when (cough … “polio.”), and why it’s suddenly a big deal. (Yes, they’re making a vaccine for that.)
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a common childhood illness that causes nausea, fatigue, fever, irritability, and a rash with discolored spots, blisters, and sores on the hands, mouth, and feet, and could be caused by many different viruses, the most common being Coxsackie A 16, Enterovirus 71, and other enteroviruses.
But let’s call it what it is, shall we? Polio. At least that’s what it was called before the vaccine hit the scene and the diagnostic criteria for polio were changed to make the vaccine look more effective. (Oh, snap!)
Yes, polio is caused by the poliovirus, but back in the day? Coxsackie and enteroviruses – the same ones that cause Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (and viral/aseptic meningitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Steven-Johnson Syndrome, transverse myelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other “paralytic polio like illnesses”), were diagnosed as polio too.
Changing the “definition” of polio in 1955 made the polio vaccine an instant success as cases of “polio” automatically went down. Yet, cases of all of these new differentiated diseases went up. Now that polio has been “eradicated” (I say that loosely.), we can now come up with a whole bunch of vaccines for the illnesses that were initially lumped in with polio to begin with. Score! It’s big business.
Polioviruses and coxsackie viruses belong to the same genus (known as “enteroviruses”) and when you manipulate viruses with vaccines, other viral strains mutate and evolve, become more prevalent or die out, and may affect our chances of contracting other infections. Research shows that the enterovirus 71 strain that commonly causes HFMD is strongly reliant on the immune response provoked by the polio vaccine.
According to researchers Qiben Leng and Annie De Groot, the failure of polio vaccine efficacy or ‘take’ may contribute to these sporadic epidemics […] and whether or not patients were effectively immunized against Polio virus may determine the severity of their HFMD symptoms.
So the polio vaccine hits the scene to prevent a disease that was actually asymptomatic in 95% of the population, the diagnostic criteria were changed to make the vaccine look more effective, the live oral vaccine was replaced with the inactive polio vaccine to prevent the paralysis being caused by the live version, other enterovirus strains (like those responsible for HFMD) become more prevalent, the immune response is affected by whether the polio vaccine actually took, and the solution is to create vaccines for all of the other viruses that cause the illnesses that were once diagnosed as polio in the first place. We should all get ready for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease to become the next big thing.
So is it a big deal?
It depends on who you ask. The Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institute of Health classifies Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease as a “rare disease” that occurs in less than 200,000 people each year. The CDC says outbreaks mostly occur in Asia, and most recover without health complications. The World Health Organization says it’s a common/mild infectious disease, some people who are exposed don’t even get symptoms, and if you do, you get immunity (to that viral strain anyway). Statistics show that small epidemics come and go, without so much as a notice.
But to a pharmaceutical company getting ready to launch a vaccine? It’s the latest zika, ebola, or whatever it is they’re into. They have to create a market for their vaccine, so the mainstream media picked it up, a hashtag was invented, and the “fear” that a simple childhood illness is on the rise is ramping up. And let’s face it, if they can turn chicken pox or measles into something scary, they can do it with this too.
How to Avoid Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
It’s all very quite simple. HFMD spreads via boogers, drool, poop, and an oozy rash (and may be more prevalent in the vaccinated); so … tell your child not to pick their nose, eat their boogers, share their boogers, put objects in their mouth, or rub up on another kid. Make sure they’re wiping their bumper and checking it twice, and show them how to wash their hands. (I know. This is impossible, especially if they’re in school with a hundred little gobstoppers.)
You can also spray down your surfaces with something essential oil, keep an eye out for “viral shedding opportunities,” and use a little woo – the kind that does absolutely nothing and doesn’t involve a hilarious concoction of all things toxins, monkey parts, and baby ingredients.
If your kids do get it, don’t freak out. Hit up the oat baths, epsom salt, raw coconut oil, and essential oils, and increase infection fighting nutrients like vitamin C. And please, don’t take your kids out in public. Keep them home, put them to bed at 6 p.m. (in the name of restorative sleep and all), pour yourself a beverage, and turn on something Netflix. If Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is really on the rise, we might as well add some shows to our queue and embrace the benefits.