Doctors seeing 'ghost virus' spreading through students, parents

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It peaks around the start of school, but already Lowcountry doctors are seeing a highly contagious, but common virus. Doctors are battling hand, foot, and mouth disease.

"It's commonly known as the hand, foot, and mouth disease but some are now calling it the ghost virus because signs and symptoms don't show up until days later, giving it time to spread person to person," said Dr. Terry Dixon with Medical University Hospital.

Dixon says he has seen hundreds of cases, but they usually spike as kids head back to school.

"Hand, foot, mouth disease is usually characterized by fever, painful sores in the mouth, and lesions on your palms and soles," Dixon said.

Young and old are fair game when it comes to the virus, but children are its primary victims.

"Parents can treat the symptoms, treat fever with Tylenol and anything that can comfort the lesions usually lotions or oral Benadryl, which can help with itching," he said.

The same virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth is also to blame for certain cases of meningitis. But whatever strain is ailing people, proper hygiene may be the ticket to a clean bill of health.

"Enterovirus are spread by infected secretions. So usually children are spreading this in their saliva or in their stool," Dixon said.

There is no vaccine for hand, foot, and mouth but the best advice Dixon has for the public is to wash your hands often and thoroughly.

MUSC has already treated several cases of the disease. Dixon says anyone who sees the symptoms show up in their children should contact a doctor.