There has been a surge in flu, covid and Coxsackie cases in recent weeks, with health professionals advising booster shots for both flu and covid.

Even though the Coxsackie virus is not new and is more common at this time of year, the drastic rise in cases has been met with apprehension, with over 40 cases reported to date in the city of Larissa (in Thessaly, Central Greece) alone. Coxsackie is a virus that mainly targets children under 5 and is transmitted via droplets and infected surfaces. No vaccine has been developed to prevent its spread. What is most troubling about the virus is that up to 50 percent of children can be asymptomatic.

Athens-Piraeus Hospital Doctors’ Association (EINAP) President Matina Pagoni describes the illness: “It starts with a fever, general discomfort, fatigue, a sore throat, but becomes a cause for concern when rashes develop on the palms and soles. Mouth rashes are the most worrying symptom, as they make it impossible for the child to swallow, not even water.

“It lasts for about 7 days, then the symptoms start to subside. The fear lies in possible complications, which are rare but include encephalitis, meningitis, myocarditis and pericarditis.”

Pagoni urges parents to contact a pediatrician and keep children at home at the first signs of symptoms.

With regard to Covid-19 and flu, Pagoni advises people, especially older individuals and those with underlying health issues, to get booster shots to protect themselves.

“Fortunately, for us adults, antiviral drugs have helped a lot. However, it has been some time since we were vaccinated and our antibody levels will have decreased significantly. That’s why we suggest that high-risk groups go and get the latest vaccine, even though it is not mandatory”, she notes.