Prozac, the drug commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety and other personality disorders can be used against the second most common infection-causing virus in the U.S., new research says.

According to researchers Prozac (Fluoxetine) can be used as an antiviral agent against enterovirus.

"The discovery of unexpected antiviral activity of fluoxetine is scientifically very significant and draws our attention to previously overlooked potential targets of fluoxetine and other psychogenic drugs," said Robert Damoiseaux, scientific director of the Molecular Screening Shared Resource at the California NanoSystems Institute, according to a statement.

According to estimates, more than 10 million people in the U.S are infected with enteroviruses each year. The virus spreads through direct or indirect contact. Common personal hygiene practices like washing hands and covering mouth while sneezing that prevent spread of enteroviruses.

In the present study researchers from University of California Los Angeles found that fluoxetine was effective in inhibiting coxsackievirus replication. Exposure to this virus causes makes the body vulnerable to other infections.  

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), enterovirus infections can occur in people of all age groups but children and teens are at particular risk of developing an infection

These infections usually occur during summer or fall. The symptoms associated with the infections are treated with over-the-counter medications for "summer flu", the agency added. 

"Part of our follow-up work will be the discovery of these unconventional targets for fluoxetine and other drugs of the same class and how these targets intersect with the known targets of this drug class," said Damoiseaux.

Researchers added that understanding how the virus replicates in the body can lead to discovery of better treatments in the future.

The study was published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.