A clinical scoring system for pediatric hand-foot-mouth disease

BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 31;21(1):722. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06424-w.


Background: The aim of the present study was to develop a clinical scoring system for the diagnosis of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) with improved accuracy.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on standardized patient history and clinical examination data obtained from 1435 pediatric patients under the age of three years who presented with acute rash illness and underwent enterovirus nucleic acid detection. Patients were then divided into the HFMD (1094 patients) group or non-HFMD (341 patients) group based on a positive or a negative result from the assay, respectively. We then divided the data into a training set (1004 cases, 70%) and a test set (431 cases, 30%) using a random number method. Multivariate logistic regression was performed on 15 clinical variables (e.g. age, exposure history, number of rash spots in a single body region) to identify variables highly predictive of a positive diagnosis in the training set. Using the variables with high impact on the diagnostic accuracy, we generated a scoring system for predicting HFMD and subsequently evaluated this system in the test set by receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC curve).

Results: Using the logistic model, we identified seven clinical variables (age, exposure history, and rash density at specific regions of the body) to be included into the scoring system. The final scores ranged from - 5 to 24 (higher scores positively predicted HFMD diagnosis). Through our training set, a cutoff score of 7 resulted in a sensitivity of 0.76 and specificity of 0.68. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.804 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.773-0.835) (P < 0.001). Using the test set, we obtained an AUC of 0.76 (95% CI: 0.710-0.810) with a sensitivity of 0.76 and a specificity of 0.62. These results from the test set were consistent with those from the training set.

Conclusions: This study establishes an objective scoring system for the diagnosis of typical and atypical HFMD using measures accessible through routine clinical encounters. Due to the accuracy and sensitivity achieved by this scoring system, it can be employed as a rapid, low-cost method for establishing diagnoses in children with acute rash illness.

Keywords: Clinical diagnosis; Enterovirus; Hand-foot-mouth disease; Infants; Receiver operating characteristic curve; Scoring system.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enterovirus Infections*
  • Enterovirus*
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease* / diagnosis
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies