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New South Wales Experiencing Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease Outbreak

NSW is in the grips of a hand, foot and mouth outbreak with The Health Department reporting ER’s are experiencing a sharp increase in presentations with the disease. 

The data from the NSW Communicable Diseases Weekly Report shows the highest numbers of HFMD since 2011 in children under five years.

Whilst most media is reporting that cases are centralised in Western Sydney the March data also shows increased cases in the Mid North Coast & Illawarra regions demonstrating a more wide spread hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and Liverpool based, My Health Medical Centre, GP Dr Bishoy Marcus reports it is spreading ‘rapidly’ as parents are not keeping their children home whilst contagious.

“This is a massive outbreak. What we’ve realised is that parents don’t know what to do and are sending their children to childcare with it,” he said.

The GP said if a child has a rash, keep them at home until it dries up. “While they have blisters that are filled with fluid, keep them at home. Even once they pop, the virus can spread for a few more hours.”

While the highly-contagious virus usually passes with basic treatment like isolation, fluids and paracetamol pain relief, it’s very uncomfortable and can be particularly stressful for young babies, who are unable to easily swallow fluids to ease the pain.

Symptoms manifest three to seven days after making contact with the virus and it often presents with fevers, sore throat, lethargy and small blisters inside the mouth, hands and feet.

  • Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually a mild viral illness which is common in children. 
  • Diagnosis is made by a local doctor, and there is no specific treatment.
  • Good personal hygiene is important to prevent spread of the disease.

Prevention and health advice on the hand, foot & mouth disease outbreak

The best way to prevent the spread of HFMD is good hygiene. The New South Wales Health Department publishes the following advice on the disease.

How is hand, foot and mouth disease spread?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually spread by person-to-person contact. The virus is spread from the faeces of an infected person to the mouth of the next person by contaminated hands. It is also spread by secretions from the mouth or respiratory system, and by direct contact with the fluid from blisters .

It usually takes between three and five days after contact with an infected person before blisters appear. The viruses can remain in faeces for several weeks.

Who is at risk of hand, foot and mouth disease?

The viruses that cause hand, foot and mouth disease are common and particularly affect children.

Many adults, including pregnant women, are often exposed to them without symptoms. There is no clear evidence of risk to unborn babies from hand, foot and mouth disease. However, infected mothers can pass the infection onto newborn babies who rarely can have severe disease. Outbreaks may occur in child-care settings.

How can hand, foot and mouth disease be prevented?

Good hygiene is the best protection. This includes the following measures:

  • Wash hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, before eating, after wiping noses, and after changing nappies or soiled clothing.
  • Avoid sharing cups, eating utensils, items of personal hygiene (for example: towels, washers and toothbrushes), and clothing (especially shoes and socks).
  • Thoroughly wash any soiled clothing and any surfaces or toys that may have been contaminated.
  • Teach children about cough and sneeze etiquette:
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Coughing into an elbow is better than coughing into your hands.
  • Dispose of used tissues in the bin straight away
  • Wash your hands afterwards with soap and water

For more information please see the Hand, foot and mouth disease fact sheet.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease: Five Questions Answered

 From Visually.


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Mother-of-two. Tea lover. Lego Ninja. Expert in carpet Play Dough extraction. Victoria Louis is a 30-something writer based in Sydney, NSW. A former marketing manager who loves to laugh there’s no topic she won’t explore. Victoria is full of opinion, big on kindness and believes the day is always better with a dash of lipstick.

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