Coxsackievirus

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideChildhood Diseases: Measles, Mumps, & More

Childhood Diseases: Measles, Mumps, & More

What is a coxsackievirus?

Coxsackievirus is a member of the Picornaviridae family of viruses in the genus termed Enterovirus. Coxsackieviruses are subtype members of Enterovirus that have a single strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA) for its genetic material. The enteroviruses are also referred to as picornaviruses (pico means "small," so "small RNA viruses"). Coxsackie virus was first isolated from human feces in the town of Coxsackie, N.Y., in 1948 by G. Dalldorf. Coxsackie virus is also written as coxsackievirus in some publications.

What are the types of coxsackieviruses, and what can they cause?

Coxsackieviruses are separable into two groups, A (CVA) and B (CVB), which are based on their effects on newborn mice (coxsackievirus A results in muscle injury, paralysis, and death; coxsackievirus B results in organ damage but less severe outcomes.) There are over 24 different serotypes of the virus (having distinct proteins on the viral surface). Coxsackieviruses infect host cells and cause host cells to break open (lyse).

Picture of the Coxsackie virus
Picture of the coxsackievirus; SOURCE: CDC

Type A viruses cause herpangina (painful blisters in the mouth, throat, hands, feet, or in all these areas). Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is the common name of this viral infection. Coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) causes the majority of HFMD infections in the U.S. It usually occurs in children (age 10 and under), but adults can also develop the condition. This childhood disease should not be confused with the "foot and mouth disease" usually found in animals with hooves (for example, cattle, pigs, and deer). Type A viruses also cause inflammation of the eyelids and white area of the eye (conjunctivitis). Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6) has caused herpangina (mouth blisters) in infants.

Type B viruses cause epidemic pleurodynia (fever, lung, and abdominal pain with headache that lasts about two to 12 days and resolves). Epidemic pleurodynia is also termed Bornholm disease. There are six serotypes of coxsackievirus B (1-6, with B 4 considered by some researchers as a possible cause of diabetes in a number of individuals).

Both types of viruses (A and B) can cause meningitis, myocarditis, and pericarditis, but these occur infrequently from coxsackievirus infections.

Enterovirus 71, like coxsackievirus, also causes HFMD. In Asia in July 2012, particularly Cambodia, children infected with enterovirus 71 (EV-71) had a high mortality rate due to encephalitis and acute polio-like paralysis. This epidemic (mainly in babies, toddlers, and children under 2 years of age).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2016

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