By Prof. Michael Kossove
Touro College School Of Health Sciences
New York, New York
Enteroviruses are among the most common and important human pathogens. Included in this group are Poliovirus, Coxsackie virus, and ECHO virus. There are several other
enteroviruses that are named for their different typings such as EV-D68, which is of
concern to us now. They can all cause meningitis, although rare. There are over 100
different types of enterovirus.
Enteric refers to gut. Most cause gastroenteritis. Non-polio enteroviruses can be found in infected persons in feces(stool), secretions of the eye, nose and saliva, or sputum, and blister fluid.
You can become exposed to the virus by:
Having close contact, such as touching or shaking hands, with an infected person.
Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them.
Changing diapers of an infected person.
Drinking water that has the virus in it.
If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands, you can get infected with the virus and become sick.
Non-polio enterovirus can be shed (passed from person’s body into the environment) in
your stool for several weeks or longer after you’ve been infected. The virus can be shed
from your respiratory tract for 1 – 3 weeks or less. Infected people can shed the virus
even though they don’t have symptoms.
Enterovirus EV-D 68
Can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
Mild – fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches.
Severe – wheezing and difficulty breathing,
It can be spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes,
Or touches a surface that has been touched by others.
Small numbers of EV-D 68 have been reported regularly to the CDC since 1987.
However, this year, the infection is much greater.
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected because they do not have immunity. Children with asthma have a higher risk of complications.
In California, patients had infective respiratory symptoms before paralysis began.
Children quickly lost function in arms or legs. This shared some features of polio. EV- 68 was isolated from some of these children.
CDC reported that in the last 60 days there have been at least 538 people in 48 states, and the District of Colombia, had the EV-68 virus.
There has been some question of whether the disease is being spread by the presence of the tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children from Central America that have
entered the US this past year.
NOTE: In 1949 there was an outbreak of polio-like symptoms in Coxsackie, NY. The
patients were mostly adults. A researcher, Dr. Dalidorf, doing polio research, went to
Coxsackie, NY, to collect stool samples from the patients. Stool samples did not confirm polio, but a new virus, named Coxsackie virus, after the town. Most of us know that Coxsackie causes Hand-Foot-Mouth disease. We haven’t seen cases of paralysis with Coxsackie since then.
These crazy diseases causing polio-like symptoms will continue to occur, and when we
see the word “polio,” it scares the heck out of us.