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.

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How do people get infected with coxsackievirus?

Infection usually is spread by fecal-oral contamination, although occasionally the virus is spread by droplets expelled by infected individuals. Items like utensils, diaper-changing tables, and toys that come in contact with body fluids that contain the virus may also transmit them to other individuals. Although people of any age, including adults, can get infected, the majority of patients with coxsackievirus infection are young children. Pregnant women can pass coxsackievirus to their newborns, which may cause serious problems for the newborn. So during pregnancy, women need to notify their obstetrician if they exhibit symptoms of the infection, especially if they are near their delivery date.

What are the risk factors for coxsackievirus infection?

Risk factors for coxsackievirus 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.

What specialists treat coxsackievirus infections?

In most instances, if treatment is needed, it is done by the patient's pediatrician and/or primary-care physician. However, in severe cases, specialists in pediatric critical care and infectious diseases may be consulted. If severe complications develop (for example, carditis or pleurodynia), others like lung or cardiac specialists may be consulted.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2016

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