Cases Per Year: 100 – 5,000
Fatality Rate: 20%
First Discovered: 1969 in California, United States
Enterovirus 71 causes hand, foot, and mouth disease in children. Other symptoms include neurologic disease, such as meningitis, encephalitis (swelling of the brain and spinal cord), or acute flaccid myelitis. Enterovirus 71A is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses, though it can infrequently cause polio-like syndrome permanent paralysis.
The virus is found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, stool, and blisters (if they have hand, foot, and mouth disease). It is transmitted through close personal contact with an infected person, droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs, contact with feces of an infected person, or contact with contaminated objects.
Infants and children are most at risk of infection and falling ill of enteroviruses. Adults can become infected but are less likely to have symptoms.
Photo: Enterovirus 71 – Electron micrograph.