By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Coxsackie virus is rampant once again! I’ve 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 are contagious and can shed the virus to others. The best prevention to prevent spreading the illness is good, old-fashioned 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’re also seeing many children with a rash on their buttocks and legs, as well. The rash is often confused with diaper rash if there are no other associated symptoms.
Coxsackie virus typically lasts 3-7 days. While some children are terribly cranky and uncomfortable, and will even drool rather than “swallow their own spit,” others 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 well hydrated.
Most kids don’t have a great appetite when they have a sore throat (do you?), so I’m a big believer in Popsicles, Slurpees, ice cream, frozen yogurt, shaved ice, ice pops and the like. You just want to make sure your child is hydrated during the illness, so “food rules” can be tossed out for a few days. If your child has a fever, he/she needs to stay home until they’re fever free for 24 hours. They may then return to school, day care and other activities.
Thankfully, adults rarely get this illness, as we have developed immunity over the years. Interestingly, I just read and 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 coming years.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of “The Kid’s Doctor” radio show. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.
This was printed in the November 17, 2013 – November 30, 2013 Edition