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Health Information For Parents
Coxsackieviruses are part of the enterovirus family of viruses (which also includes polioviruses and hepatitis A virus) that live in the human digestive tract.
The viruses can spread from person to person, usually on unwashed hands and surfaces contaminated by feces (poop), where they can live for several days.
In most cases,
infections cause mild flu-like symptoms and go away without treatment. But in some cases, they can lead to more serious infections.
Coxsackievirus can produce a wide variety of symptoms. About half of all kids with an infection have no symptoms. Others suddenly get a high fever, headache, and muscle aches, and some also develop a sore throat, abdominal discomfort, or nausea. A child with a coxsackievirus infection may simply feel hot but have no other symptoms. In most kids, the fever lasts about 3 days, then disappears.
Coxsackieviruses can cause symptoms that affect different body parts, including:
Occasionally, coxsackieviruses can cause more serious infections that may need to be treated in a hospital, including:
Mothers can pass an infection to their newborns during or just after birth. Babies are more at risk for a serious infection, including myocarditis, hepatitis, and meningoencephalitis (an inflammation of the brain and meninges). In newborns, symptoms can develop within 2 weeks after birth.
Coxsackieviruses are very contagious. They can be passed from person to person on unwashed hands and surfaces contaminated by feces. They also can be spread through droplets of fluid sprayed into the air when someone sneezes or coughs.
When an outbreak affects a community, risk for coxsackievirus infection is highest among infants and kids younger than 5. The virus spreads easily in group settings like schools, childcare centers, and summer camps. People are most contagious the first week they’re sick.
In cooler climates, outbreaks most often happen in the summer and fall, but tropical parts of the world have them year-round in.
Depending on the type of infection and symptoms, the doctor may prescribe medicines to make your child feel more comfortable. Because antibiotics only work against bacteria, they can’t be used to fight a coxsackievirus infection.
You can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve minor aches and pains. If the fever lasts for more than 24 hours or if your child has any symptoms of a more serious coxsackievirus infection, call your doctor.
Most kids with a simple coxsackievirus infection recover completely after a few days without needing any medical treatment. A child who has a fever without any other symptoms should rest in bed or play quietly indoors. Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
How long the infection lasts can vary. Kids who only have a fever may see their temperature return to normal within 24 hours, although the average fever lasts 3 days. Hand, foot, and mouth disease usually lasts for 2 or 3 days; viral meningitis can take 3 to 7 days to clear up.
Call the doctor immediately if your child has any of these symptoms:
There is no vaccine to prevent coxsackievirus infection. Hand washing is the best protection. Remind everyone in your family to wash their hands well and often, especially after using the toilet, after changing a diaper, before meals, and before preparing food. Shared toys in childcare centers should be cleaned often with a disinfectant because the virus can live on these objects for days.
Kids who are sick with a coxsackievirus infection should be kept out of school or childcare for a few days to avoid spreading the infection.
Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.
Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFM) is a common viral infection that causes painful red blisters in the mouth and throat, and on the hands, feet, and diaper area.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
Washing your hands well and often is the best way to keep from getting sick. Here’s how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.
Most vomiting is caused by gastroenteritis, and usually isn’t serious. These home-care tips can help prevent dehydration.
Fevers happen when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body’s way of fighting infections.
You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease can cause fever and blisters on the hands and feet and in the mouth and throat.
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that can help kids feel better — but only when they have certain illnesses. Find out if an antibiotic is right for your child.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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