The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Hand, Foot, and Mouth (HFMD) Disease in Japan

Updated September 14, 2015

What is the current situation?

According to the World Health Organization, as of August 25, Japan has reported more than 264,500 cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in 2015. Since the middle of March, weekly case numbers of HFMD have increased but have been declining since August.

CDC recommends that travelers to Japan( follow recommendations for hygiene and cleanliness to avoid HFMD.

What can travelers do to prevent HFMD?

No vaccine prevents HFMD. Travelers are advised to practice good hygiene, including handwashing, to lower the risk of getting sick.

Practice hygiene and cleanliness:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who are sick.

Disinfect dirty surfaces and soiled items:

  • If you are able, first wash the items with soap and water, then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach with 4 cups of water) or a cleaning product that contains bleach.

If you develop mouth sores and think you have HFMD:

  • Take over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. (Caution: Children should not take aspirin.)
  • Use mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated.
  • Seek medical care if you are unsure if you have HFMD or if you cannot swallow liquids to stay hydrated.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
    • Tell them about your travel.
  • For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad(
  • Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information