Herpangina

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Herpangina facts

  • Herpangina is a self-limited infection primarily caused by coxsackieviruses.
  • Herpangina most often affects young children.
  • Herpangina is associated with fever, sore throat, and blisters in the back of the mouth.
  • Herpangina is diagnosed based on clinical symptoms alone.
  • Treatment of herpangina is usually directed toward minimizing the discomfort associated with the mouth blisters.
  • Most children with herpangina recover completely after four to seven days.
  • There is no easy way to prevent herpangina.

What is herpangina?

Herpangina is an acute, virally induced, self-limited illness often seen in young children during the summer months. Affected children usually complain of mouth sores and fever. It is caused by a number of viruses, all part of the enterovirus family, coxsackievirus being the most common. Most children develop a high fever and complain of a sore throat. They then develop vesicles (blisters) or ulcers (sores) at the back of the throat and palate (called an enanthem). Children, especially younger children, may refuse to eat or drink because of the pain and are at risk for developing signs and symptoms of dehydration.

What causes herpangina?

Several common Coxsackie A viruses can cause herpangina, although a number of other enteroviruses have also been implicated. The viruses are usually spread via the "fecal-oral route" or via "respiratory route." Contact with mucous of an individual infected with one of these viruses is usually all that is needed to contract the illness. The normal course of the infection involves an incubation period which is generally an asymptomatic period lasting anywhere from one to two weeks. In fact, half of individuals infected with some of these enteroviruses remain asymptomatic throughout, which makes preventing transmission more difficult.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

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