How Is Coxsackie Virus Contagious?

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Coxsackie virus is seen most in children under 10 years of age. But adults do contract the virus. It is contagious. The incubation period may vary from 2-35 days depending on virus type. It can cause HFMD (hand foot mouth disease). The virus is more prevalent in the summertime. Common symptoms consist of:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Poor appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Feeling tired
  • Painful blisters (sores) on the hands, mouth and feet
  • Mild flue like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • No symptoms
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Red blisters on the gums, cheeks and palate
  • Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis (infection which affects the whites of the eyes) eye pain is present
  • Temporary loss of toenails and fingernails

Most cases of Coxsackie virus are simple and tend to resolve in about 7-10 days. There is no vaccine or anti-bacterial treatment for Coxsackie virus; fever can be alleviated with Tylenol or Motrin. To relieve other symptoms:

  • Cold milk will help soothe mouth sores
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help avoid dehydration
  • Stay away from acidic juices to prevent increase oral irritation of sores.
  • Topical solutions containing Benadryl (diphenhydramine) for foot and hand discomfort.

Be especially aware and contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:


  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in testicles
  • Fever over 100.4 Fahrenheit in infants under 6 months and adults 102 Fahrenheit
  • Watery eyes that are red and swollen
  • Confusion
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Severe headaches with confusion vomiting, sleepiness or convulsions
  • Abdominal or chest pain

In newborns infection can also occur from the mother.

Types Of Coxsackie Virus

There are 2 groups; A and B. Group B being the most serious and possibly causing sudden and unexpected death.

Most cases are not fatal and clear up on their own. The more serious cases occurring from Group B: These require hospitalization. They can consist of:

  • Myocarditis (heart muscle infection) Group B
  • Encephalitis (brain infection) Group B
  • Viral Meningitis (infection of tissues (membranes) surrounding the brain and spinal cord) Group B
  • Neonatal infection-Group B
  • Bornholm disease (epidemic pleurodynia causing severe chest pain) sometimes referred as the devil’s grip Group B

How Is It Spread?

Coxsackie virus is spread by fecal oral contamination; for example, touching a surface contaminated with infected feces and then placing hands in the mouth. This can transfer germ material into your body. The risk of transmission is increased when hands are not washed properly after changing diapers, from diaper changing tables and bathroom surfaces.

But fecal matter is not the only means of infection. The virus can be spread through saliva, nasal secretions, contaminated toys, kitchen utensils, infected blister fluid, and sores.

The bottom line; transmission can occur by having contact with bodily fluids from a person infected with the virus.


Good hygiene practices like keeping contact surfaces clean and frequent hand washing help reduce the risk. What a challenge this can be especially with young children and infants; as they are continually putting objects into their mouth.

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