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A large subgroup of the genus Enterovirus in the family Picornaviridae. The coxsackieviruses produce various human illnesses, including aseptic meningitis, herpangina, pleurodynia, and encephalomyocarditis of newborn infants. See Picornaviridae
Coxsackieviruses measure about 28 nanometers in diameter; they resemble other enteroviruses in many biological properties, but differ in their high pathogenicity for newborn mice. At least 23 antigenically distinct types in group A are now recognized, and 6 in group B.
After incubation for 2–9 days, during which the virus multiplies in the enteric tract, clinical manifestations appear which vary widely. Diagnosis is by isolation of virus in tissue culture or infant mice. Stools are the richest source of virus. Neutralizing and complement-fixing antibodies form during convalescence and are also useful in diagnosis. See Antibody, Complement-fixation test
The coxsackieviruses have worldwide distribution. Infections occur chiefly during summer and early fall, often in epidemic proportions. Spread of virus, like that of other enteroviruses, is associated with family contact and contacts among young children. See Animal virus, Virus classification