Coxsackie virus

Your child is feeling under the weather, but is it a common case of the flu or signs of the coxsackie virus? Most commonly known in hand, foot and mouth disease form, kids are at a higher risk of coming down with the cox virus when they meet certain criteria. From virus symptoms to how to keep the illness from spreading, learn more about how the coxsackie virus can affect your child.


What it is the coxsackie virus?

Part of the same family as polio and hepatitis A viruses, the Coxsackie virus is an extremely contagious illness that makes its way into the human digestive tract. Although this virus can cause infections year-round in warmer climates, in general, most outbreaks of the cox virus occur during summer and fall.

“While children five and younger are at highest risk of getting sick and having complications from coxsackie,” warns Dr. Edith J. Chernoff, Department of Pediatrics assistant professor at the University of Chicago, “as a rule, it is a benign febrile illness. Because it is spread though contact and can be infectious for weeks after symptoms resolve, it is seen most commonly in schools and in daycare centers (most commonly seen as hand-foot-mouth disease), where group settings are common.”

Signs of the coxsackie virus

Symptoms of the coxsackie virus can include mild flu-like symptoms, with the highest rate of contagiousness during the first week your youngster is sick. In about half of kids infected with the virus, no symptoms are exhibited. However, other signs of the coxsackie virus include:

  • Sudden high fever lasting about three days
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea

Sometimes, the coxsackie virus can cause more serious symptoms that may require hospitalization, such as:

  • Viral meningitis (infection of the membranes enveloping the brain and spinal cord)
  • Encephalitis (brain infection)
  • Myocarditis (infection of the heart muscle)

Coxsackie virus strains

The coxsackie virus can rear its ugly head in many forms, including:

  • Hand, foot and mouth disease: Causes painful red blisters inside the mouth and on the throat, tongue, palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
  • Herpangina: Causes a throat infection, including red-ringed blisters and ulcers on the tonsils and soft parts of throat and mouth.
  • Hemorrhagic conjunctivitis: Causes eye pain, red, watery eyes, swelling, light sensitivity and blurred vision.

Cures for cox virus

Although there is no vaccine to prevent the coxsackie virus, most symptoms go away without treatment. Your pediatrician may prescribe medications, such as acetaminophen, to ease your child’s symptoms. While at home, have your child rest or play calmly indoors and drink plenty of fluids.

How to keep from spreading Cox virus

According to, the coxsackie virus can live on contaminated surfaces for several days. The virus is spread most commonly on unwashed hands and surfaces contaminated by feces, as well as through the air in droplets of fluid sprayed when someone coughs or sneezes. So the best line of defense is frequent hand washing.

Encourage your child to wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper and before handling or eating food. You can also clean toys regularly with a disinfectant.

Remember to keep your child home from school or daycare when he or she is infected with the coxsackie virus to avoid spreading the illness until symptoms have passed. Depending on the symptoms, your child should be feeling better in two to seven days.

Although many symptoms of the coxsackie virus pass without a trip to the doctor’s office, be sure to dial up your doc when your child shows virus symptoms such as a fever higher than 102 degrees F. (or higher than 100.4 degrees F. for infants younger than six months old), sores on the skin or inside the mouth (most commonly associated with hand, foot and mouth disease) or anything more than minor aches and pains. However, for many kids, a lot of rest, plenty of fluids and a little TLC are just what the doctor ordered.

More on childhood illnesses

Top 5 childhood sicknesses and how to prevent them
5 Tips to keep your baby healthy during flu season
Kids and the flu


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