Enteroviruses are a major source of human disease, particularly in neonates and young children where infections can range from acute, self-limited febrile illness to meningitis, endocarditis, hepatitis, and acute flaccid myelitis. The enterovirus genus includes poliovirus, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, enterovirus 71, and enterovirus D68. Enteroviruses primarily infect by the fecal–oral route and target the gastrointestinal epithelium early during their life cycles.
Scientists thought a rare respiratory virus was what caused dozens of kids to lose feeling in their limbs last fall, but now the connection is less certain.
This is really the first time there’s been such a large outbreak with severe symptoms. But in the past, there have been clusters in the United States. We discovered a cluster in New York City in 2009. There were clusters documented across the United States in 2009 and 2010. So there have certainly been clusters of this virus in the past but what is different now is the scale and the symptoms.
That’s right, the most common method of catching an enterovirus is the fecal-oral route, which means exactly what it sounds like.
Generally this happens via what doctors call the five Fs: fingers, fluids, flies, fields, and floods, with a sixth F—food—often also thrown into the mix. If there are even small particles of droppings on any of these, there's a risk of enteroviruses getting into your system.
Enteroviruses are common viruses. There are many different enterovirus strains that range from very common infections - like Hand Foot and Mouth Disease and common colds - to deadly and rare viruses - like polio as well as encephalitis. One strain, Enterovirus-D68 or EV-D68, received a lot of attention as it spread respiratory disease in the fall of 2014.
The Enterovirus Foundation, founded in November 2008, is a non-profit organization created to fund research to discover the persistent effects of enteroviruses, to determine the role they play in both acute and chronic disease, and to develop treatments to cure and prevent these diseases.
Most people who get infected with non-polio enteroviruses do not get sick, or they only have mild illness, like the common cold. Symptoms of mild illness may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, and body and muscle aches. Two of the most common types of non-polio enteroviruses are enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) and enterovirus A71 (EV-A71). Infections with non-polio enteroviruses are common in the United States during summer and fall. CDC can’t predict which type of enterovirus will be more common each season because a mix of different enterovirus types circulates every year, and different types can be common in different years.
The most common illness associated with enteroviruses is “non-specific febrile illness.” Children with this type of illness have a fever and feel under the weather for around 3 days. Sometimes they have a fever for a couple of days, feel better, and then have another fever for a couple of days.
The enteroviruses include numerous strains of coxsackievirus, echovirus, enterovirus, and poliovirus. These viruses are responsible for illness in 10 to 30 million people each year in the United States, primarily in the summer and fall. Infections are highly contagious and typically affect many people in a community, sometimes reaching epidemic proportions. Enteroviral infections are most common among children.