Usually when a major league baseball player is placed on their team's disabled list it’s due to an injury. But Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard landed on the list Sunday after he contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease, a condition that's most common among little kids.
Syndergaard had a less than stellar performance on Friday, which Mets manager Mickey Callaway blamed on his then-undiagnosed illness. “[The virus] had everything to do with [Friday],” Callaway told the New York Post. “I put my hands on his legs to talk to him when he came out. I felt his legs shaking.”
Syndergaard is expected to miss just one game and should be back in time for the team's game on July 31. “This is maybe the first DL stint in major league history with hand, foot, and mouth,” Callaway said. “Maybe a record or something.”
Hand, foot and mouth disease isn’t comfortable, but it’s usually not serious.
The condition is a (usually) mild yet contagious viral infection caused by the coxsackievirus, which comes with mouth sores and a rash on the hands and feet, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In addition to the sores and rash, people with hand, foot, and mouth disease may have a fever, sore throat, fatigue, generally feel crappy and irritable, and have a loss of appetite, the Mayo Clinic says. On the more serious end, a rare strain of the virus can lead to complications including viral meningitis (an inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the brain) and encephalitis (a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the brain).
Callaway also told the New York Post that Syndergaard’s legs were shaking when he was taken out of Friday’s game. That’s not a common symptom, but it could be related to the weakness that some people experience with the condition, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF.
Hand, foot, and mouth is passed on through contact with an infected person’s nasal secretions, throat discharge, or saliva. It can also be spread via their poop, fluid from blisters, and droplets sprayed into the air after they cough or sneeze, the Mayo Clinic says. “This is a pretty contagious disease,” Dr. Adalja says. It's also really common in daycare settings, per the Mayo Clinic.
While hand, foot, and, mouth disease is much more common in kids, adults can be exposed to it as well. “It is uncommon for adults to get it but does occasionally happen,” Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease doctor in Akron, Ohio, and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells SELF.
Most people don’t get the illness as adults because they already had it as a child and, therefore, built up antibodies to it, Dr. Adalja explains. But if you missed out on it as a kid or get exposed to a different strain of the virus than you initially had, it’s possible to get it as an adult, Dr. Adalja says. (Syndergaard may have contracted it during a recent visit to a youth baseball clinic, according to the New York Post.)
If you know that someone around you has hand, foot, and mouth, there are a few things you can do to lower the odds you'll get it, too.
For example, the Mayo Clinic recommends practicing good hand hygiene, especially after using the bathroom and changing a diaper, and before making food and eating. Disinfecting common areas with soap and water followed by a diluted solution of chlorine beach and water can also help.
And, if there are sick people in your house, try to isolate them as best as you can, the Mayo Clinic says. That means keeping your kids home from school and staying home from work if you happen to get it yourself.
But if you do get hand, foot, and mouth, you probably won't need any special treatment.
Symptoms usually develop between three and six days after becoming infected, the Mayo Clinic says. A fever is usually the first sign, followed by a sore throat and lack of appetite. A day or two after the fever starts, you’ll likely get painful sores on the front of your mouth or throat, and a rash on your hands and feet (and maybe even your butt) may appear another day or so later.
There’s no cure or specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth, Dr. Watkins says, but the symptoms usually clear up within 10 days. In general, doctors recommend taking over-the-counter medications (like acetaminophen) for pain, staying well hydrated, and getting proper rest, he says. Luckily, it’s a often a mild disease. And unlike the chicken pox, adults tend to have a milder form of hand, foot, and mouth than kids. “Some even have no symptoms at all,” Dr. Adalja notes.
If you think you've developed symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth, it's best to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. If your mouth sores or sore throat make it difficult to drink enough liquids or your symptoms aren't getting better after a few days, definitely get checked out. They may be able to prescribe an oral anesthetic that eases the pain and helps you feel better.