Infection by the coxsackie virus is somewhat uncommon in adults but cannot be ruled out completely. Read on and find out more about how adults can get infected by this virus and what are the symptoms of such an infection.
Coxsackie virus and infections brought along by it such as hand, foot and mouth disease are common among kids and contact and infection by this virus is quite rare in adults. However, that does not mean that adults are immune to it, and its ill effects. This virus has been known to give rise to ailments such as conjunctivitis, meningitis, myocarditis and pericarditis, among others, in adults. This article tells you everything about the symptoms of coxsackie infection along with tips on prevention and treatment of such infection. A section summarizing facts about the coxsackie virus and its pathogenesis is also there towards the conclusion – after all, it is always good to know your enemy.
The beginning of coxsackie viral infection in adults is marked by typical symptoms of viral infection such as:
- Aching joints
- Constant headache
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms remain throughout the incubation period of the virus. After the virus has incubated, advanced infection symptoms such as mouth sores start appearing which may turn into blisters and ulcers within a couple of days. In case of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, rashes on palms and soles start appearing soon after the appearance of sores in the mouth. Rashes may also appear on the genitals. These rashes remain for about eight to twelve days after which they disappear, signaling recovery from the infection. More serious infections, such as cardiac invasion, may be characterized by symptoms such as muffled sound of heartbeat and pulsus paradoxus. Of late, studies conducted with relation to Sjögren’s Syndrome are also indicate towards possible role of this virus in the occurrence of this systemic autoimmune disease.
The maximum risk of contagion exists till about one week after the beginning of the symptoms of viral infection. Even after having shed the virus, the recovered person may remain mildly contagious for about a couple of weeks after recovery. Pregnant women should be especially careful as they can pass down the infection to the fetus and coxsackie infection has been known to cause birth defects to the unborn fetus.
Since the virus is spread by contact of infected tissues and virus contaminated articles, the best way to prevent contacting this virus is to avoid contact with infected persons. Moreover, coxsackie infection can be prevented by maintaining personal hygiene and avoiding places that pose risk of viral contamination such as public toilets, street food joints, etc. The most common disease caused by coxsackie infection is hand-foot-and-mouth disease and since the symptoms appear and leave on their own, no specific treatment is required for this condition. Symptomatic treatments for easing fever, body ache, may be administered to provide relief. Discomfort from mouth sores and ulcers can be alleviated by the use of ulcer gels, mouth washes and medicated sprays. Topical medications such as ointments containing diphenhydramine may be applied to sores on palms, feet and genitals to ease discomfort. On the rare occasion that one suffers from vital organ disorders owing to coxsackie infection, it is advisable to consult an infectious disease specialist for treating such complications.
While most common virus species like influenza and HIV viruses display an enveloped structure wherein they form an envelop around them out of the host’s cell membranes, the coxsackie virus does not belong to this category. This virus is an RNA virus with a single plus stranded genetic structure and belongs to the Picornaviridae family of non-enveloped Enteroviruses. This means that the coxsackie is a close relative of some other very well-known viruses that attack humans such as the polio virus and the Hepatitis A virus. Coxsackies are classified under two sub-groups – Coxsackie A and Coxsackie B – based upon their diverse pathogenesis observed in the laboratory.
The coxsackie A virus is identified by its penchant for targeting and infecting skin and mucus membranes. The most common diseases caused by coxsackie An infection are mouth blisters (also known as herpangina), hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, aseptic meningitis and diseases of the upper respiratory tract. The coxsackie B virus shows a more acute invasive tendency by skirting superficial membranes and attacking internal and vital organs like the heart, liver, pancreas and pleura. Such viral infections manifest in the form of myocarditis, pericarditis, hepatitis, pleurodynia, etc. Some recent studies have also indicated that coxsackie B may be responsible for the occurrence of juvenile diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
Judging from the above facts, it can be said with stoic certainty that prevention is the best cure, as far as infection by coxsackie virus in adults and children are concerned. Following preventive measures such as maintenance of personal hygiene, avoidance of shared facilities, avoiding contact with infected individuals, are the best ways to keep this virus at an arm’s length. The bottom line is: Stay clean, stay safe.