A mum revealed how her daughter’s ‘chickenpox’ turned out to be the most extreme case of hand, foot and mouth disease doctors had ever seen.
Emma Reavley, 41, is sharing a heartbreaking image of her two year old covered in painful red blisters to raise awareness about the contagious illness.
She first noticed a few red spots on the back of daughter Emily’s neck and assumed she had caught chickenpox from her older sister Evie, four.
But the mum-of-eight, from Hemel Hempstead, watched as the spots seemed to “appear before her eyes” and spread over her poorly toddler’s body.
By the next morning, Emily’s whole body was covered in angry red sores which had spread into her mouth and down her throat making it painful for her to swallow – and Emma knew “something wasn’t right”.
The youngster’s mum and dad Shaun Reavley, 39, took her to the Urgent Care Centre in Hemel Hempstead where doctors sent Emily home with antibiotic cream and medicine to treat chickenpox.
But within a few hours of being home, Emily’s temperature had “skyrocketed” so her parents rushed her to Watford General Hospital where she was diagnosed with the most severe case of hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) “doctors had ever seen”.
Emily had to be quarantined in her home for the next 14 days as the disease is highly contagious – and spent the first five days slumped on the sofa in tears from the pain.
While her little girl is now back to her usual “happy” self, mum Emma is sharing the shocking images of Emily’s blistered face and body to warn parents of how dangerous HFMD can get.
Emma said : “ Emily started getting a few spots on her neck and I thought it was chickenpox.
Evie had chickenpox just three weeks earlier.
“It was just a few at first but it was like they were literally appearing before my eyes. As the day went on, the worse they were getting.
“Her whole body was covered and she had them in her mouth and down her throat. At the hospital, the doctors said it was the worst case of HFMD they’d ever seen.
“We had to keep her incubated indoors at home for two weeks. Fourteen days is such a long time to keep a child quarantined.
“She would be sort of dancing around because her skin was so itchy but it was also hurting. She wanted to be held but if I tried to hold her, she’d be in pain from the blisters on her skin.
“It was horrible. It really was heartbreaking to see her like that. I don’t ever want to experience it again.
“I never knew HFMD could be so extreme. More people need to be aware. It’s not just a case of a few spots on their hands, feet and mouth. Emily was particularly unlucky but it can spread and be so serious.
The worried parents first tried to take Emily to their GP but were advised to visit a pharmacy who told them to go to the urgent care centre. And it was here that Emily was put in isolation for five hours while doctors ruled out measles and scarlet fever.
Emma said: “They sent Emily home with antibiotic cream and medicine but told us to take her to hospital if she went downhill or her temperature spiked – which it did within a few hours of getting home.”
Emma and roadside mechanic Shaun rushed their daughter back to hospital once again when her condition deteriorated and her temperature rose to 39C. Doctors immediately recognised
Emily’s symptoms as a severe case of HFMD as she was the third case they had seen that day.
Although Emily was back to her normal self after five days, the blisters took six weeks to clear completely.
Emma said: “Looking at her now, she’s a completely different child to the one in those pictures when she was poorly.
“I would tell any parent whose child has HFMD to follow doctors orders and keep them quarantined for two weeks because it is so contagious and it’s airborne.”
Consultant paediatrician Dr Ramesh Chaniyil from West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the Urgent Care Centre in Hemel Hempstead, said: “We’re delighted to hear that Emily has made a full recovery.
“It can be very easy to miss hand, foot and mouth disease in its early stages as the blisters can look similar to the blisters which appear with chickenpox.
“HFMD is caused by a virus and the features of the disease vary from mild to severe.”