Coxsackie Virus – The Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Coxsackie virus (or coxsackievirus) is commonly known as the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). This is because it causes a blister-like rash that affects the hands, feet and mouth of the patients.

The majority of patients identified and diagnosed with Coxsackie infection are children under 10 years of age, with occasional cases infecting adults as well.

There are over 24 different serotypes of the virus (meaning that it has different antigens on the viral surface). Host cells that are infected with Coxsackie viruses would break open (lyse).

The common strain is the Type A viruses (mainly serotype A 16) which cause herpangina (painful blisters in the hands, feet, mouth and throat areas). Type A also causes conjunctivitis (inflammation of the white area of ​​the eye as well as the eyelids).

Type B viruses cause epidemic pleurodynia which has the symptoms of fever, lung, and abdominal pain, and headache that lasts for about two to 12 days). It is also termed as the Bornholm disease.

In rare cases, both these viruses can cause pericarditis, myocarditis and meningitis.

HFMD is contagious and can spread from person to person. Infection is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges or droplets, or by contamination of the feces of the infected patients.

Pregnant mothers who are infected can pass Coxsackie virus to their newborns, which may cause serious problems for the newborns.

There is no specific medical treatment available for HFMD. Only symptomatic treatment is given, such as relief for fever, aches and pain from the blisters and ulcers.

Steps to curb the infection include frequent washing of hands (especially after using the toilet, or after diaper changes), washing soiled clothes and disinfecting of contaminated surfaces in the house, such as table surfaces, toys, and floor, as the virus can live on these surfaces for days!