Coxsackie virus is rampant once again! I have seen too many kids to count (TMKTC) with symptoms of coxsackie virus and the classic skin rash associated with “hand, foot and mouth disease”. Many parents are telling me that their day care centers are having outbreaks which is what typically happens at this time of year.
Like many viruses, coxsackie can make some children quite miserable, while others have very few symptoms but never the less are contagious and shed the virus to others. Viruses are just plain ‘ole contagious, even with the best precautions to help prevent spreading the illness. Best prevention continues to be hand washing!
The classic symptoms of “hand, foot and mouth disease” are a fever, sore throat, and a rash which looks like small red spots or even a bit of a blister, occurring on a child’s palms, soles and often in their throats causing pain. We are also seeing many children who have a rash on their buttocks, and legs as well. The rash is often confused for a diaper rash if there are no other associated symptoms.
Coxsackie virus typically lasts from 3 -7 days. While some children are terribly cranky and uncomfortable and will even drool rather than “swallow their own spit”, other seem to not even notice the rash on their hands or feet. The treatment is totally symptomatic, which means acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and discomfort and keeping your child hydrated.
Most kids don’t have a great appetite when they have a sore throat (do you?), so I am a big believer in popsicles, Slurpees, ice cream, fozen yogurt, shaved ice.....the list is long. You just want to make sure your child is hydrated during the illness so “food rules” get thrown out for a few days. If they have a fever they need to stay home until they have been fever free for 24 hours, and they may then return to school, day care, and other activities.
Thankfully, adults rarely get this illness, as we have developed some immunity over the years. Interestingly, there was just an article about a trial of coxsackie virus vaccine given to children in China which proved to be quite successful in preventing serious coxsackie disease......stay tuned for more about this in the coming years.