Coxsackie Virus



Submitted by David Overton

Coxsackie viral infections were first recognized in Coxsackie, New York and have caused outbreaks of heart disease, particularly heart failure. This is an RNA virus, which can infect cells and take over DNA to make more viral copies. Coxsackie is divided into groups A and B. Mouse group A infections were noted to cause generalized myositis (mild to moderate muscle inflammation, pain or damage) that progressed to nerve damage. Mouse Group B infections were noted to cause localized muscle injury (pain, inflammation or damage) and nerve damage. The virus is spread by contaminated food or water, unwashed hands and swimming.

Coxsackie is not a flu virus and has many strains. Group A strain 24 causes pink eye or spontaneous eye bleeding, strain A16 in children or adults causes mild symptoms with or without fever, mouth sores and/or rashes on the palms, fingers or feet while strain A35 is linked to infectious obesity (see my article). Coxsackie virus is one of the enterovirus family, which includes polio, echovirus, hepatitis A and others. While it was found coxsackie could protect against polio, these viruses often mimic mild or non-paralyzing polio, raising the question if they cause fatigue, fibromyalgia, neurological and other problems.

Group A & B can infect children and adults and cause acute, relapsing or chronic non-specific flu or viral symptoms, fever, upper respiratory disease (“colds”, sinus, ear, nose and throat problems), rashes and nervous system problems. In general, group A tend to infect the skin and mucus membranes (eyes, nose, sinuses, throat, digestive and genital urinary tract) and nervous system. Group B tend to infect the circulation (blood vessels and heart), lungs, pancreas, liver and cause pleurisy-like symptoms, myocarditis (mild to severe problems in the heart muscle), kidney and urinary infections or damage, pericarditis (mild to severe heart inflammation) and hepatitis.

Infections tend to be mixed, meaning you can have strains and several infections at once or sequentially. For example, Ebstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis) is common with sore throats, strep throat, coxsackie and other infections (see my article on Sore Throats). Those with Ebstein-Barr infections often consequently become infected with mycoplasma or Chlamydia bronchial infections, pneumonia or asthma-like symptoms (this definitely happened to me). Those with herpes virus type 1 though 7 (see my articles) can have coxsackie infections. One can have hepatitis with coxsackie and if one gets group A coxsackie they can have group B.

Recent discoveries reveal many viruses (especially parovirus and herpes virus (see my articles) can impair immune functions, making it less likely one gets the “classic” symptoms and making it harder for the immune system to suppress or response to viral infections. Oftentimes, those with immune impairments do not even experience common “colds” or the flu.

Five strains of coxsackie B were discovered exclusively in the United States and a sixth strain was found in the Phillipines. The virus is spread by contaminated food and unwashed hands. All six strains are now found around the world and a common cause of gastrointestinal upset (stomach flu or other symptoms). A few other symptoms coxsackie B infections cause include fever, headache, sore throat, chest and muscle pain. In some cases, the infection progress to mild or severe heart damage and/or nerve damage. Strains B 2 & 5 are implicated in mouth diseases, rashes and respiratory infections. Strain B2 is implicated in autoimmune diabetes. Coxsackie B can be present at birth and may also cause birth defects. Coxsackie B infection are the most common cause of unexpected sudden death and may cause 50% of sudden deaths.

The incubation period is 2-35 days and infection can happen anytime, more commonly in June and October. Coxsackie A & B is diagnosed by symptoms or with specific blood tests and both are resistant to most drugs. Fortunately, we have found a few antiviral drugs and have many supplements to support or improve immune functions and/or suppress viral infections.

David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice integrating conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. Learn more by calling 360-357-8054 or visit

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