Children Herpangina

Children Herpangina

  Autor NN Team Data: 21.07.2009

Children Herpangina
Herpangina is a minor infection of the child, caused by Coxsackie viruses (part of Enterovirus species, the most frequent in people, after rhinoviruses) with symptoms such as sore throat, fever and small lesions in the mouth. These lesions can be 1-2 mm is diameter and get a gray-yellowish color. 

Generally, children under 10 are affected (except the newborns which are protected by the antibodies coming from mother milk), and the disease lasts for 4-7 days. It occurs during summer and autumn in small epidemics usually. 

The cause of this infection is the Coxsackie virus A. These are enteroviruses, transmitted through stools of an infected person, the main culprit are the dirty hands. Starting with a single case in the community, the herpangina spreads fast from one child to another, as any other viral infection. The easiest way to prevent this, is having a rigorous hygiene especially for children who live in communities (kindergarten, school). Teach them to wash their hands each time they use the toilet, to never eat with dirty hands and to never touch their mouth, nose, eyes with their hands unless recently washed. 

Once the virus is there, the herpangina starts suddenly with fever (38-39 degrees) and sore throat when swallowing food, after an incubation period of two to nine days. However the specific symptoms list is much bigger: nausea, vomiting, sore throat, pharyngitis, abdominal pains, anorexia, lesions in the mouth, on hands, legs, buttocks, fever, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing foods). 

Regarding the treatment, the options are few. Same as the cold, flu, chickenpox and other viral infections, the herpangina cannot be treated. Usually, it must run its course and disappear. Fortunately, this is a benign infection without sever complications or consequences and it does not last long. Until the symptoms disappear, a symptomatic treatment might be used in order to improve the child's state. You can use paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever and pains, and a mild local anesthetic such as pills (ask at the drugstore) for the lesions in the mouth and throat. 

The infected child should not be isolated, because the Coxsackie viruses are not transmitted through air. But, the infected child should be taught to wash his hands very well, in order not to transmit the virus to other children, and the ones around him must know that dirty hands should not get into contact with food or mouth. 

Probably many of you already know this, but we must mention that antibiotics should not be included in the treatment of a child with viral infection. The antibiotics only kill bacteria and not viruses. Herpangina, same as the cold, the flu, the mumps, the chickenpox are not cured with antibiotics. On the contrary, these medicines do more harm because they destroy the gastric flora and create resistance. 

Also, the child with viral infection shouldn't receive aspirin at all, although this is a good antithermic. The aspirin combined with a viral infectious disease may cause Reye syndrome, a rare but very dangerous disease. 

Read the English version of this article: Children Herpangina