Coxsackieviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a variety of infections and diseases, ranging from mild to serious. There is a type A group and type B group, and coxsackieviruses can be found in adults and children alike. Continue reading to learn more about the approximately 29 viruses that are classified as coxsackie, as well as what causes them, what signs and symptoms to watch out for, and how coxsackieviruses are treated.
A coxsackievirus infection is contagious, and once caught, it takes an incubation period of approximately one to two days for symptoms to appear. Those with a coxsackievirus are most contagious during the first week of catching it, however, they may still pass it on for up to one week after the symptoms have ended. It is spread through bodily secretions, for example, if an infected individual rubs their runny nose and touches a clean surface, and another uninfected person then touches that surface and proceeds to rub their mouth or nose, they may become infected too.
Coxsackieviruses are spread from person to person, meaning adults can contract them by coming into contact with an infected individual. Those who do not wash their hands frequently and touch their faces may be more likely to contract a coxsackievirus, as they could have touched a contaminated surface and then touched their mouth or nose without washing the bacteria off in between.
Coxsackieviruses can cause a variety of conditions with similar symptoms, including:
Meningitis. Symptoms include fever, child, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck pain, and seizures.
Encephalitis. Encephalitis may cause neurological symptoms to develop in addition to the symptoms experienced with meningitis.
Paralysis. In rare cases, coxsackieviruses can cause paralysis, though it is often temporary and will resolve over time.
Pericarditis. Pericarditis is the inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart and can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and swelling in the feet.
Myocarditis. Characterized by the inflammation of the heart muscles, myocarditis can cause the same symptoms as pericarditis.
Type 1 diabetes. Coxsackievirus infections may damage the cells of the pancreas, which is responsible for producing insulin. This can result in diabetes mellitus.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease. This infection may occur in adults but is more common among children. Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, rashes, and vesicular eruptions that can ulcerate.
Pleurodynia. Known as the inflammation of the chest muscles, pleurodynia can cause sudden pain in the upper abdomen and chest.
Hemorrhagic conjunctivitis. When the conjunctiva of the eye become inflamed, symptoms including pain and swelling of the eye, red eye, and headache may occur.
Hepatitis. Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver and can cause fever, anorexia, malaise, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
Doctors may perform an assortment of tests to diagnose whether you have a coxsackievirus based on the type of infection you have. Those with a common cold or rash usually don’t require any complex testing and can be diagnosed based on symptoms, though a throat swab may be taken to rule out strep throat. Those with conjunctivitis may require an eye examination to confirm the diagnosis.
To diagnose meningitis, a spinal tap may be necessary to discover if there is an excess of white blood cells and protein in the spinal fluid.
Myocardia and pleurodynia may be diagnosed with an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram, as well as blood tests to determine if the other organs have been impacted.
There are a number of ways to treat and ease the symptoms of some of the more common types of coxsackieviruses. While no medicine has been shown to effectively eradicate these infections, our own immune systems tend to do a fine job at destroying it within the body.
To help your immune system along, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are available to reduce pain and inflammation associated with some forms of coxsackieviruses, though the best home treatment lies in prevention.
Washing your hands frequently and especially after visits to the bathroom is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of these infections. Avoid sharing personal items and ensure to keep your home and/or office as clean and sanitary as possible.
If you experience a rash, fever, seizure, severe headache, stiff neck, shortness of breath, or chest pain, you should seek medical attention to gain a proper diagnosis for your symptoms. Most people with coxsackieviruses can be treated by their family physicians, although if your infection is severe or has complications, a specialist like a cardiologist or intensive-care specialist may be consulted.
The group of infections known as coxsackieviruses can affect anyone and may cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from minor things like headaches and rashes to more major complications like chest pain and seizures. If you are concerned about any symptoms you may be experiencing, contact your doctor for a thorough diagnosis and treatment suggestions.