There are many different types of viruses circling the globe at any given time. A virus is categorized as a microscopic parasite that, when it attaches to or gets into a host, can wreak havoc on the host’s body and cause ailments ranging from mild to severe, and sometimes even death.
Viruses are broken up into groups using the Baltimore classification method, which categorizes the them depending on their morphology, genetics, and how the mRNA is made during replication. The Coxsackie virus is classified into a group of viruses called the enterovirus. So what is Coxsackie virus, exactly? And what are the symptoms of Coxsackie virus?
What is Coxsackie virus?
The Coxsackie virus is an RNA virus that leads to the disease of the lungs, heart, and muscles in severe cases, and can also lead to hand, foot, and mouth disease. It is generally found in children and tends to be a brief and mild virus, meaning that it rarely requires heavy treatment due to its self-limitation.
The virus contains only one strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA), and is part of the picornavirus family because of its small size. The virus was first documented in the late 1940s in Coxsackie, New York, and the virus itself is split up into two groups: A and B.
The A group tends to be the more severe version of the virus, while the B group tends to stay mild. Coxsackie virus is contagious, although it is mainly transmitted through fecal-oral contact, making the risk of contagion fairly low in places with good sanitary practices.
What are the symptoms of Coxsackie virus?
The main symptoms of Coxsackie virus are:
- fever (similar to many other viruses)
- lowered appetite
- sore throat and cough
- respiratory distress
- a general feeling of tiredness.
These main symptoms often occur shortly after the virus is transmitted, specifically no more than a few days, and are generally followed by blisters in the mouth. These symptoms can then turn into a painful and itchy rash on the palms of the hands and bottom of the feet as the virus progresses.
When the Coxsackie virus gets into the body, it attaches itself to host cells, breaking them open. This destruction of the cells leads to an imbalance in osmosis. When this occurs, the proteins and DNA in the cells are then left out in the open. This causes the body’s immune system to respond to the threat, creating a chain reaction on a cellular level. When the immune system goes into overdrive, it sends out attacker cells to help rid the body of the virus, which has a detrimental impact on the body as a whole.
How do you test for Coxsackie virus?
Testing for Coxsackie virus can be hard thing to do, but the most widely used method in diagnosing a Coxsackie infection is visual examination. A doctor will examine the patient’s sores, blisters, and rash to determine whether they indicate Coxsackie virus.
This method, although useful, isn’t always the most effective way to test for the virus, especially if it spreads through a community. When such spread occurs, viral tests such as Infectolab’s ELISA test can be administered.
The ELISA test is an FDA-cleared test that is designed to look for certain viruses within the sample. These tests are far more accurate than visual examinations, as they can single out the virus in the infected patient even after they’ve rid themselves of the virus and its symptoms. Since most cases of Coxsackie clear up on their own, it can be hard to determine if someone has had the infection or is carrying the infection by visual exam alone.
What is the treatment for Coxsackie virus?
As mentioned above, Coxsackie virus tends to be mild and clears up on its own by the tenth day. Treatment for the symptoms of the virus often come in over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, which dulls any pain that goes along with the blisters and sores and helps to reduce the fever that is brought on by the virus.
For the rash and blisters, some allergy medications such as Benadryl can be used to help curb discomfort, and mouthwash or oral disinfectant sprays can help to ease the pain of ulcers in the mouth.
Since there is no formal treatment or vaccine for Coxsackie virus available, the only way to treat it is to wait it out and deal with the symptoms that cause discomfort during infection. In the most serious of cases, antivirals may be used to lessen the risk of cognitive or heart symptoms.
Does Coxsackie make you tired?
Often accompanied by the other more visible symptoms, a general feeling of tiredness may be experienced during a Coxsackie virus infection. This is likely caused by the body’s immune response and the battle going on a cellular level.
Other less common symptoms of the virus include:
- nausea (often paired with problems with appetite, or a complete loss of appetite)
- abdominal pain and discomfort
- muscle aches
These less common symptoms are treated in the same way as the other symptoms: with over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms so the body can fight off the infection on its own.
Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels