Once summer hits, most parents think that they are in the clear in terms of illness. Although this can certainly be true in terms of colds and upper respiratory infections, summer still has its fair share of illnesses. In this blog, we will give you more information regarding two of the most common summer illnesses.
- Coxsackievirus (AKA hand, foot, and mouth syndrome)
This is a benign, self-limited illness that lasts for about 4 – 6 days. Coxsackievirus belongs to the Enterovirus family, which includes viruses like poliovirus, echovirus, and enterovirus. One of the reasons this virus spreads so easily is that there are multiple modes of transmission. These modes of transmission include contact with feces, contact with contaminated objects and surfaces, and contact through respiratory droplets. For instance, you can get coxsackie by touching a doorknob that has the virus on it, or kissing someone that has it, or being near someone who is coughing or sneezing. Although not as common, it is possible to be infected with the coxsackievirus from a swimming pool or a lake. Despite how contagious it is, most coxsackievirus strains are truly benign.
Coxsackievirus is the most common cause of ulcerative pharyngitis. One would see ulcer type lesions in the mouth, often on the palate. A typical course of coxsackievirus starts with the onset of fever, then the beginning of the ulcerative lesions, and then the rash on the hands and feet. Sometimes coxsackievirus will only involve the mouth rather than the hands and feet. Some individuals will have the rash around their mouth, buttocks, knees, and elbows. After about 4 – 6 days, the illness resolves itself. Some people will have a mild desquamation of the lesions on the hands and feet (sloughing off of the skin). Although anyone can be infected with coxsackievirus, the typical age range is infants to children under 5. Many adults will not show any symptoms but may still pass the virus to others. One is most contagious during the first week that they have the virus.
As mentioned, coxsackie is a self-limited virus so there is no treatment to make it go away faster. That being said, the mainstay is supportive measures such as ibuprofen for the pain and staying hydrated. Many individuals will not want to eat because of the painful mouth sores, but it is important to push fluids as a means of preventing dehydration.
This is another benign childhood virus that involves fever and rash. The typical age range for infection is 6 months to 2 years of age. It is commonly spread by respiratory fluids, and/ or direct contact with an infected person or object.
With this virus one typically sees a high fever (up to 105) for 2 – 5 days. The key with this virus is that the child does not appear seriously ill, although they may appear very fussy. When the fever breaks, the rash appears. The rash usually occurs on most of the body and is not itchy or uncomfortable (despite the way it may look). Most often 1 – 2 days after the rash appears, the child starts acting more like herself with less fussiness. The tricky part with roseola is that there are no other signs or source of the fever during the febrile period. For very young children, this can lead to other tests needing to be done to rule out other concerning sources. The most common cause of roseola is the Herpes Virus Type 6 (HHV-6), which is not related to the sexually transmitted Herpes Virus.
Just as with coxsackievirus, there is no treatment for roseola. If your child is exposed to someone with roseola, it will take a week or two for the signs and symptoms to appear, if they appear. Supportive measures include fever reducers and hydration.
If you suspect that your child has been infected with one of these common summertime viruses, please feel free to call our office for more information.