My 3-year-old grandchild has coxsackievirus. It's going around the child care center. Is this a serious illness?

Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.

Most coxsackievirus infections aren't serious.

Many people have no symptoms or only mild ones. Some common symptoms are:

  • Fever.
  • Being very tired.
  • Rash.
  • Sore throat.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Painful swallowing.
  • Headache.

Coxsackievirus is sometimes written as two words: Coxsackie virus. Many strains of coxsackievirus exist. But they all belong to a group of viruses called enteroviruses.

The virus spreads when you touch an object with the virus on it and then touch your face. You also can catch the virus by breathing it in when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes near you.

Illness with this group of viruses happens most often in children less than 1 year old. But anyone can catch the virus. The virus spreads throughout the year. In places with different seasons, cases may go up in the summer and the fall.

For people who catch the virus, health care providers suggest staying home, getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids. Pain medicines that you can get without a prescription can be used for pain or fever. Medicines that are used to treat bacterial infections, called antibiotics, won't help the body clear out coxsackievirus or any other viral infection.

Very rarely, more-serious symptoms can happen. Some strains of this virus can cause:

  • Severe hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
  • Chest pain, called pleurodynia.
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle, called myocarditis.
  • The tissue around the brain to swell, a disease called meningitis.
  • Infection in the brain, also called encephalitis.

If you're worried about your grandchild's symptoms, call a health care provider. Some symptoms to watch for are a high fever, dehydration, or severe headache.


Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.

Dec. 28, 2022 See more Expert Answers