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When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for a Coxsackievirus Infection?
Seek medical care if you or your child has a rash, fever, seizure, severe headache, or stiff neck. Chest pain and shortness of breath should also prompt medical attention. Mild symptoms may be handled over the phone by a doctor's office. More severe symptoms should prompt a trip to the clinic or emergency room.
What Specialists Treat a Coxsackievirus Infection?
Primary-care physicians (pediatricians, internists, and family practitioners) serve the needs of most patients with a coxsackievirus infection. If there is confusion about the exact diagnosis, an infectious-disease specialist may be consulted. A cardiologist or intensive-care specialist may be needed for the management of severe complications.
What Exams and Tests Do Physicians Use to Diagnose Coxsackievirus Infections?
In people with symptoms of a common cold or a rash, no tests are usually needed. In people with conjunctivitis, the doctor may examine the eyes using a handheld ophthalmoscope to confirm the diagnosis. If a sore throat is present, the doctor may take a swab and do a rapid test to rule out strep throat.
In aseptic meningitis, a doctor may take a sample of the spinal fluid by doing a spinal tap (lumbar puncture). Most patients with aseptic meningitis will show an increase in the number of white cells in the spinal fluid, a normal sugar level, and normal to slightly elevated protein level in the fluid. These changes in the spinal fluid are much milder than would be seen with bacterial meningitis. A sample of the spinal fluid may be cultured to see if it grows coxsackievirus, but culture is difficult and expensive and many hospitals do not have the ability to do it. More recently, a rapid test called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been used that detects the genetic material of the virus. The PCR can detect 66%-90% of infections.
Myopericarditis is a serious condition and requires evaluation with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram). The electrocardiogram may show rhythm problems caused by the enlargement of the heart and may reveal whether the sac around the heart is inflamed. The echocardiogram shows how large the heart is, how well it pumps blood, and whether there is fluid around the heart. Blood tests are done to tell if other organs are being damaged.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/24/2016
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