Coxsackie, Echo and other Enteroviruses Coxsackie, Echo and other Enteroviruses

These are some of the most common viruses of childhood, especially in the summer. They can cause a summer "flu-like illness" with a low-grade fever, headache and achiness. They can also cause high fever spikes and make the child feel miserable.

One form of Coxsackie virus (A10) is Herpangina. When the pediatrician looks at the child's throat, way in the back of the soft palate, there can be little "canker" sores. The fever and sore throat can last a couple of days, and as it breaks, a pink bumpy rash might appear. Another classic Coxsackie virus (A16) causes Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, wherein the child gets herpangina-like sores on the mouth, plus small chickenpox-like spots on theirs hands and/or feet. Most of the enteroviral illnesses are more nondescript, and only a viral culture would be able to determine which Coxsackie or Echo virus was the culprit. Serious forms of the illness do occur but are rare. The polio viruses are members of the enterovirus family but have been essentially eradicated in this country by vaccination.

How to treat it

The immune system does the work of knocking the virus out. No antibiotics are needed. Ibuprophen (Advil or Motrin) and acetomenophen (Tylenol, Tempra) will help with the fever and achiness. Cool liquids and things like ice pops, chilled apple sauce, cantaloupe and watermelon also help. Most kids have no appetite but will take enough fluid to keep from being dehydrated. 


When the child is feverish, they are most contagious. Enteroviruses are spread through hand/mouth contact. They are then shed in the stools of people with the illness, and those recovering from it. They can also be spread by flies landing on food, and mosquito bites, dechlorinated swimming pools, and drinking from the same cups/bottles.

Once a child's fever is broken for a full day, and they're on the mend, they can go back to camp or nursery school. However, it's imperative that people wash their hands after using the bathroom or after changing a baby's diaper. To avoid spreading the virus, and children shouldn't drink from each other's cups.

Fortunately, even though Coxsackie and Echo virus can make a child feel very sick, they're usually up and about in a few days.