Herpangina is a common childhood infection of the throat caused by a strain of the Coxsackie virus family. This virus lives in the human digestive tract and can be transmitted from person to person, usually as a result of hand-to-hand contact. This virus can cause red-ringed blisters and ulcers inside the mouth and throat and on the tonsils. Similar blisters may also appear on the feet, hands and buttocks.
Herpangina can infect anyone at any age, but it is most prevalent in children between the ages of 3 and 10. It can cause fever, headaches and loss of appetite, in addition to a sore, ulcerated throat that makes it difficult to swallow. Treatment typically consists of letting the infection run its course and keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. In most cases, the fever will remain low-grade and will go away within three to four days. Other symptoms, including ulcers and blisters, typically do not last more than five days. Your health care provider may recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate discomfort and cold, non-acidic beverages to prevent dehydration.
A qualified health care provider should be contacted if the symptoms do not go away within five days or if the fever gets exceptionally high. You should seek medical help if the patient is unable to drink liquids or appears to be getting dehydrated.
The Coxsackie virus that causes herpangina is transmitted by contact with contaminated feces. Thorough hand washing with very warm water and soap is the best means of preventing the transmission of this disease.