YORK COUNTY, S.C. – There are growing concerns about a viral illness every parent needs to hear.

Doctors in several states, including South Carolina, are seeing an increase in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease.

In South Carolina, there have already been 15 reported outbreaks this year, according to state health officials.

Experts say the virus typically affects children younger than five years old, but adults can also be infected and spread the disease. They say the virus is most contagious in the first week.

You might be surprised at some of the ways it can spread. The CDC says hand, foot and mouth disease spreads through bodily fluid. People can pass along the disease through direct contact like hugging, touching contaminated surfaces, changing diapers or respiratory secretions, like coughing or sneezing.

However, another way most parents aren’t aware of is by swallowing recreational water like from a swimming pool.

Symptoms include a rash or a low-grade fever, which is something often overlooked in children, but usually the first sign. Other symptoms include a reduced appetite and a sore throat. You’ll also see a skin rash or cluster of small bumps or blisters.

They normally show up around the mouth, palms of hands and soles of feet. However, those bumps can also show up in the knees, elbows, and genitalia.

Doctors say it takes three to seven days to develop symptoms, which is also the most contagious time period.

South Carolina health officials recommend washing your hands often and regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces to lessen your risk.