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A harmless sounding disease that has the patient in the "devil's grip".

Bornholm disease, aka Devil's Grip or epidemic pleurodynia is an acute infection with the enterovirus Coxsackie B that attacks the striated muscles and causes acute chest - and abdominal pain associated malaise and high temperatures.

The infection, which might be spreading epidemically in communities, is seasonal, with 90% happening in late summer and early fall. Children are especially vulnerable and half of the patients under 15 are actually younger than 5 years old.

Due to the possible complications like myocarditis the mortality rates in infants under 4 weeks are quite high at 10%.

Incubation time is 1 week, during which the virus finds the target organs and starts to do his destructive work. In adults the disease is easily misdiagnosed as a heart attack, pleurisy or pneumonia.

Humans are the only known reservoir of the enteroviruses, transmission occurs via the fecal-oral route. Potential risk factors for the transmission of the enteroviruses are poor sanitation and overcrowding.

Intrafamilial spread is common, so better wash your hands regularly.

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, fifth edition, Longmore et al,Oxford University Press, 2001

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