Sometimes baseball players get sidelined for unusual reasons. In 1994, Steve Sparks separated his shoulder trying to rip a phone book in half.1 In 2002, Marty Cordova fell asleep in a tanning bed and his face was burned so badly he was instructed by physicians to stay out of the sun.2 In 2006, Joel Zumaya strained his wrist playing Guitar Hero.3 And just recently, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard landed on the disabled list with hand, foot, and mouth disease.4

Here are 10 things you may wish to share with your patients about the ailment that sidelined the Mets star5-7:

  1. It’s a mild viral infection characterized by mouth sores and rashes on the hands and feet.
  2. It’s most commonly caused by coxsackievirus A16, a virus belonging to the enterovirus family of viruses.
  3. It’s most often spread through contact with an infected person‘s saliva, throat discharge, stool, blister fluid, or nasal secretions. It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated objects such as doorknobs, toys, and toilet handles.
  4. It usually takes 3 to 6 days for symptoms to appear. The first symptom is usually fever, followed by sore throat and lack of appetite. Then, painful mouth sores develop, followed by a rash on the hands and feet.
  5. Sometimes there are no symptoms, so you may be infected without realizing it.
  6. It’s most common in infants and children under the age of 5. However, hand, foot, and mouth disease in adults is not unheard of. (Syndergaard is thought to have caught the viral condition while hosting a baseball camp for children.)
  7. Dehydration is the most common complication because mouth and throat sores make it difficult and painful to swallow fluids.
  8. No specific treatment exists; however, treatments may be recommended for the resulting fever and pain.
  9. Recovery typically takes 7 to 10 days, but the virus can remain in the body for weeks after symptoms are gone.
  10. The risk for infection can be reduced by thorough hand washing and disinfecting common areas. Because the virus is highly contagious, those who have it should limit their exposure to others.

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The good news is, hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually a minor illness that doesn’t require treatment. So, Syndergaard should be back to form soon.

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  1. Haudricourt T. Ex-Brewer Sparks knows phone-book incident part of his legacyMilwaukee Journal Sentinel. June 17, 2013. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  2. Christensen J. Cordova gets burnedThe Baltimore Sun. May 23, 2002. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  3. Orland K. Guitar Hero benches big leaguerEngadget. December 14, 2006. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  4. Axson S. Mets place Noah Syndergaard on DL with hand, foot & mouth diseaseSports Illustrated. July 22, 2018. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  5. Hand-foot-and-mouth diseaseMayo Clinic. July 26, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  6. Hand, foot, and mouth diseaseCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 28, 2018. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  7. What are coxsackievirus infections? KidsHealth. Reviewed September 2017. Accessed July 27, 2018.