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Enteroviral Diseases - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What are Enteroviral Diseases?

Enteroviral diseases are a group of syndromes caused by enteroviruses. Sixty three non polio enteroviruses such as coxsackieviruses are very common and cause an estimated 30 million or more infections a year in the United States. Infants, children, and adolescents are most susceptible to infection and illness from these viruses. Long-term complications are rare and symptoms usually resolve spontaneously.

What are the Causes of Enteroviral Diseases?

Numerous serotypes of coxsackie A and coxsackie B, echoviruses, and four other enteroviruses cause a variety of diseases such as herpangina, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, epidemic pleurodynia, aseptic meningitis, paralysis, myocarditis, pericarditis, respiratory disease, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Enteroviral Diseases?

Symptoms of non polio enteroviral syndromes are usually non-specific, and commonly include fever, flu like illness, rash, and mild upper respiratory symptoms are common. Less often, specific viruses cause aseptic meningitis. Rarely the heart and brain are affected, as in myocarditis, pericarditis, and encephalitis.

Diagnosis for Enteroviral Diseases

Isolation of the causative microbe in cell culture is the most common procedure for diagnosing the infection. Throat and nasopharyngeal secretions, stool, cerebrospinal fluid, and serum are most often cultured depending on the presenting symptoms. Cultures are more likely to be positive earlier than later in the course of infection.

Several other conditions associated with the particular system affected need to be considered such as: herpetic stomatitis, recurrent aphthae and Bednar's aphthae; poliomyelitis, myocardial infarction, spontaneous pneumothorax, acute appendicitis, pancreatitis, costochondritis, perforated viscus, or an influenza-like respiratory infection.

Treatment for Enteroviral Diseases

For most presenting illnesses, treatment is symptomatic. The infections are usually mild and resolve spontaneously. Cardiac, hepatic, or CNS disease may need intensive supportive care. Immunoglobulin has been used with some success in treatment of certain enterovirus infections, especially in neonates.

Special Considerations and Prevention Tips for Enteroviral Diseases

  • Use good hand-washing technique to prevent disease transmission.
  • Use gown and gloves in the clinical setting to prevent nosocomial spread of enteroviruses during epidemics.
  • Use enteric precautions for 7 days after the onset of enterovirus infections.
  • Teach proper hand­washing technique to patients and family members and stress the importance of washing hands after contact with an infected person, contaminated surfaces, or changing diapers.
  • Also encourage the patient and family to maintain a clean environment.

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