Coxsackie Virus

  • 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.

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What are the risk factors for coxsackie virus infection?

Risk factors for coxsackie virus infection include physical contact with any patient with individuals with HFMD symptoms. Other risk factors include rural living conditions, association with children in child-care centers, and a large number of children in the family. Infectious virus can be found in feces, saliva, fluid in blisters, and nasal secretions. Even patients who have recovered and have no symptoms may still shed infectious virus for weeks. A fetus or newborn is at risk if their mother becomes infected near the delivery date. Pregnant women should avoid contact with HFMD patients. They should contact their OB/GYN physician if they develop any symptoms of HFMD.

How are coxsackie virus infections diagnosed?

Patients are usually diagnosed by their clinical appearance. Clinically, blisters that are painful usually on the hands, feet, and mouth in a child with fever are considered diagnostic of coxsackie virus infection. However, in rare instances, viral tests can be done to identify the virus, but the tests are expensive, usually need to be sent to a specialized viral diagnostic laboratory that uses RT-PCR, and often take about two weeks to get a result. This testing is almost never done since most infections are self-limited and typically mild, but this situation may change because of an outbreak in Alabama (38 children, 12% hospitalized but no deaths in 2011-2012) and the recent enterovirus 71 epidemic (about 905 of hospitalized children have died) in Cambodia. RT-PCR testing can distinguish between many viral genera, species, and subtypes. Distinguishing coxsackie virus strains from adenoviruses, other enterovirus types, echo virus, viruses causing mononucleosis, and other viral diseases may become necessary in the future.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/2/2015

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