Report: Hand-foot-and-mouth disease on the rise

It's that time of year again -- time when dangerous diseases spread quickly through classrooms and after-school programs.

There's an unexpected disease affecting large portions of the country -- and it appears to be resistant to most preventative treatments.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, also known as HFMD, is a highly contagious virus.

It's not the same as foot-and-mouth disease, which often occurs in animals. This one is similar in how it spreads, but is caused by a different virus.

Experts at the West Central Health District in Georgia warn it could be a record-breaking year for HFMD, however, which currently affects about 200,000 Americans every year.

It can spread easily from contact with saliva or mucus, according to Web MD.

Though it is common among young school children, it can affect adults as well.

Symptoms are highly unpleasant, but usually not life-threatening.

The disease begins with flu-like symptoms, like fever and a sore throat, but after a few days the blisters appear.

Horrible, itchy red spots can appear on your hands, feet and mouth -- and sometimes they spread to the legs and genitals.

Serious side effects can spring up, and HFMD can lead to serious brain infections like meningitis and encephalitis.

According to the CDC, outbreaks of HFMD are not common in the USA, but a large outbreak is sweeping through the southeastern US and could spread to other regions easily.

To avoid HFMD, be extremely vigilant with your hygiene practices.

See photos of other diseases:

Various bacteria, diseases, infections
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Various bacteria, diseases, infections


(Photo by Sebastian Kaulitzki via Getty Images)

E.coli bacteria

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S. pyrogens, a nonmotile, pathogenic bacteria. Commonly associated with septic sore throat infections (known as 'strep throat') & scarlet fever.

(Photo by S. Lowry/Univ Ulster via Getty Images)

Influenza virus particle surrounded by some floating red blood cells

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Microscopic Image of Escherichia Coli

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MRSA Staphylococcus aureus Bacteria outside a white blood cell

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Microscopic Image of Neisseria Gonorrhoeae

(Photo by Duncan Smith via Getty Images)

Neisseria gonorrhoeae

(Photo by G W Willis via Getty Images)

Microscopic Image of Clostridium Tetani

(Photo by Duncan Smith via Getty Images)

Cyanobacteria in stream

(Photo by Mint Images, Frans Lanting via Getty Images)


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