There appears to be an outbreak in our county of an infection caused by the Coxsackie virus. But as of this writing, no unusual increase in this disease has been seen by doctors here in the Scotts Valley-San Lorenzo Valley area.
This virus manifests itself in two ways.
First, it may be seen as hand, foot and mouth disease, sometimes mistakenly referred to as “hoof-and-mouth disease,” which is actually a disease of certain animals. Hand, foot and mouth disease in children causes symptoms of fever, runny nose, sore throat and poor appetite, all beginning about four or five days after exposure. Several days after these symptoms occur, a blister-like rash forms in the mouth and on the palms of the hands and on the bottom of the feet. It takes about a week for the rash to clear up.
The other manifestation of this disease is called herpangina — along with the fever and fussiness, painful blisters form in the mouth but not on the hands or the feet.
This virus usually occurs in children younger than 10 but can occasionally occur in young adults. It is spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions, blisters and feces of infected people.
The illness is contagious beginning with the onset of the first symptoms and continues for about five to seven days. The virus may remain in the stool for several weeks.
There is no known cure for this infection. It is caused by a virus and just has to run its course.
Treatment of the symptoms includes over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen).
Immunity may occur after a first infection, but not always. Pregnant women who have been exposed should consult their doctor.
Most of us who treat children with this disease think that they can return to day care or school when the fever is gone and the child feels well. This usually takes about one week from onset of the first symptoms.
Thorough hand washing in general, and particularly after changing diapers, is important in limiting the spread of this disease.