Karen Libby
Pathogen Card

Coxsackie B 1-6


The Coxsackie viruses are members of the Picornaviridae family, genus Enterovirus. The picorna family is marked by its extremely small size. The virion is a naked icosahedron, about 30 nm in diameter. The genome is comprised of single-stranded, monopartite RNA. Enteroviruses, as the name implies, persist in the gut and are remarkably resistant to its harsh conditions. Sketch:


Coxsackie B virus diseases can range from relatively minor gastrointestinal upsets to paralysis, cardiac damage, and birth defects, although the subclinical and mild infections are by far the most common. As with most infections, the effects are compounded in developing countries and poor areas where malnutrition and poor access to health care predominate.


Enteroviruses generally gain access to the body through the mouth, with fecal-oral being the major mode of transmission although the virus can also be found in the respiratory secretions. Warm weather favors transmission by increasing human contacts and the dissemination of the virus through water. All coxsackie B viruses are associated with a host of numerous and varied syndromes, including meningitis, pericarditis, myocarditis, upper respiratory illness and pneumonia, rash, and hepatitis, to name a few. While hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually caused by coxsackievirus A16, B2 and B5 have also been implicated. Coxsackie B viruses have been increasingly recognized as a cause of myocardial disease in adults and children, with up to 39% of people infected with coxsackievirus B5 developing cardiac abnormalities. The incubation period for most enteroviruses is between 1 and 2 weeks, but may be 2 to 35 days.


No vaccine is available for coxsackie B viruses. General cleanliness, frequent handwashing, and avoidance of contaminated water are the best defenses against enteroviruses. Although chlorine is generally effective against bacteria contaminated water, viruses are not eliminated, due to their greater resistance.

Game Action

Swims around in the summer and infects children playing. One-liner: After swimming in the sea, rinse well to avoid coxsackie B!