With sickness season in full swing, a doctor has urged people to clean shopping trolleys before using them, after a mum claimed she caught hand, foot and mouth disease from one.
Dr Kunal Sood shared a reel on Instagram where he featured the mum’s sorrowful tale of catching the viral infection from a shopping trolley.
In the caption for the video, mum Sydney Grant wrote: "*Puts baby in the shopping cart for the first time*,” and showed an adorable snap of her little one sat in a trolley.
“Gets a horrible case of hand, foot and mouth,” she added, showing her face and hands covered in an angry, red rash.
It’s not clear whether her child also caught the illness. The TikTok video has since been viewed a whopping 15 million times.
What is hand, foot and mouth disease?
The common childhood illness is characterised by painful mouth ulcers and a raised rash on the hands and feet (hence the name). Adults can get it too, with symptoms lasting up to 10 days.
Other key symptoms include a sore throat, high temperature and not wanting to eat.
The illness will usually get better on its own however there are certain things you can do to relieve discomfort, such as:
- taking age-appropriate pain relief (paracetamol or ibuprofen)
- drinking plenty of fluids, but steering clear of acidic drinks
- eating soft foods like yoghurt
- avoiding spicy and hot foods
- speaking to a pharmacist about any gels, sprays and mouthwashes that might help relieve the pain.
How does it spread?
Unfortunately it’s pretty contagious and can be spread through an unpleasant mixture of droplets from coughing and sneezing, as well as via faecal matter (always wash your hands after going to the loo or changing nappies, folks!) and fluid found in the rash blisters.
So, in theory, touching a shopping cart which hasn’t been cleaned and has been coughed on or touched by someone with hand, foot and mouth could spread the illness.
“It is possible to pass an infection from a shopping cart,” said Dr Sood. “But do you know exactly how dirty a shopping cart is?” (If you’re eating, you might want to look away now.)
Shopping trolleys are all kinds of gross
The doctor cited a University of Arizona study which found almost 75% of shopping trolleys were positive for coliform bacteria, which includes faecal bacteria. Delightful.
The study’s authors concluded: “The results of this study suggest the need for improved sanitation of shopping cards/baskets to reduce exposure to pathogens and potential transmission of microbial infections among shoppers.”
Short of not touching shopping trolleys anytime soon – which is unrealistic for a lot of people, especially in the run up to Christmas – what can you do to reduce your chances of catching gross infections this winter?
Dr Sood recommends taking disinfectant wipes to the supermarket with you and wiping down the trolley handle. You might also want to wipe the drop down seat that your baby or toddler sits on.
Responding to the doctor’s video, one commenter added: “And don’t use the seat that diapered babies sit in to hold your food. Leaky diapers are a thing.”
Other ways to reduce your chances of getting sick, include:
- Washing your hands (and your child’s hands) regularly with soap and water – especially after coming home from the supermarket.
- Using tissues to catch coughs and sneezes (and then binning the tissues ASAP).
- Avoiding sharing towels or household items (cutlery, cups, etc) with someone who has the illness.
- Washing soiled bedding and clothing on a hot wash. You might want to also use laundry disinfectant.
Here’s to avoiding any further nasties this winter!