Toddler Gets Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease After Playing on Splash Pad. Mom Blames Careless Parents

Molly Lenig took her daughter to the park for some fun on the splash pad, but the young girl ended up bringing home a viral illness.

As KRDO reports, the mom from Colorado Springs took 2-year-old daughter Athena to the John Venezia Community Park for the Fourth of July. While the toddler was enjoying playing on the park’s splash pad, Molly believes her daughter was exposed to hand, foot, and mouth disease. She told KOAA:

“She’d gone in there with her pacifier. I assumed she dropped it and put it in her mouth.”

Within days, Athena had developed a fever, rash, and painful blisters. The mom took her daughter to the doctor, who diagnosed her with a “very severe case” of hand, foot, and mouth disease, noting that it’s “rare that it gets this bad.”

The rash got so bad that Athena didn’t want to eat or drink. Molly told KOAA that she just wishes she could take away the pain her daughter is going through:

“Sometimes, the nights where she’s been up, screaming, crying, even after medication, I’ve honestly sat there and cried just looking at her blisters.”

Now, the mom is sharing pictures of her daughter’s illness to show other parents how severe hand, foot, and mouth disease can get.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread by a virus that is present in an infected person’s saliva, nasal mucus, feces, or blister fluid. It is generally spread through close personal contact, contact with a contaminated surface, exposure to a sneeze or cough from an infected person, or contact with feces—such as when changing a diaper.

It is possible — though unusual — to contract hand, foot, and mouth disease from improperly chlorinated swimming pools or other recreational water. Though sufferers are most contagious during the first week of the disease, they can remain contagious even after symptoms disappear.

The first symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease are fever, sore throat, and reduced appetite. After one or two days, sores may develop in the mouth, and a rash may appear on the hands, feet, elbows, knees, genital area, or buttocks. In rare cases, complications can include encephalitis or viral meningitis.

To lower the risk of getting hand, foot, and mouth disease, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently handled items, such as toys, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after changing a diaper or using the toilet, and avoiding contact with infected persons.

Molly told KRDO that she and the doctor believe Athena contracted hand, foot, and mouth at the park’s splash pad:

“It can spread through feces or spit. So many kids go to the water park in diapers, they spit.”

She told KOAA that inattentive or lax parents aren’t taking enough care to clean up after their diapered children, thereby allowing the disease to spread:

“It’s a public place. It needs to be you know, just like picking up after yourself — trash.”

Molly hopes that her daughter’s story will make parents more aware of the causes of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Ideally, she would like to see the park and parents work together to lessen the risk of infection at play places like the splash pad:

“It takes both parties to keep it clean. Keep it friendly; keep it safe for our kids.”