What is enterovirus: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment

Throughout this week we have learned that, at the moment, a total of 48 children are affected in Catalonia (Spain) of enterovirus, of which 21 continue to be hospitalized (two of them in the Intensive Care Unit as a consequence of sequelae and the infection itself), which has begun to alert all Spanish pediatricians.

It is a very common virus that affects millions of children every year around the world, quite common during the months of spring, summer and autumn, which tends to cause symptoms similar to those produced by the flu, but depending on the serotype that causes its consequences can become very serious. In fact, an isolated case has already been confirmed enterovirus D68 (the most serious), in a minor who remained paraplegic after becoming ill in the month of February.

There are more than 100 serotypes. Among them we find, for example, the cause of a disease such as polio. Although, on this occasion, experts believe that the serotype A71 is the one that has provoked an outbreak in Catalonia, which precisely tends to affect the central nervous system.

Although it is a very common virus, until 2014 it was not so usual in the United States, when an outbreak occurred that occurred throughout the country, in almost all states, presenting many more cases than in previous years.

What is enterovirus?

Enteroviruses consist of a group of pathogens, viruses that circulate mainly during the summer and autumn months, formed by more than 100 serotypes which tend to manifest themselves in the form of digestive or respiratory infections that are actually of little severity.

But nevertheless, serotype D68 is one of the most serious subtypes, and is precisely what has affected one of the children with respect to the cases registered in Catalonia. It is considered by many medical experts as the most serious or aggressive, since it tends to cause neurological alterations leading to lymphocyte meningitis and finally encephalitis(acute and aggressive brain inflammation of uncertain evolution).

Most adults are immune to the virus since they have previously been exposed at some point in their lives. In fact, it is common for adults in the case of infection to have mild symptoms or simply not to have them.

But Babies and young children do have a much greater risk of getting enterovirus, especially children with asthma.

How enterovirus is transmitted

It is a group of viruses that it spreads through the fluids of the respiratory tract, as for example is the case of nasal fluids, saliva, mucus or phlegm.

Therefore, the virus can spread easily when we sneeze or cough; when we touch an object that a sick person has touched before and then we touch our eyes, nose or mouth; or when we maintain close contact with the person who has the virus (for example, kissing, hugging or shaking hands).

It is also common for the virus to be transmitted via the fecal-oral route, and it can remain in the stool for up to 8 weeks even if the symptoms have disappeared.

Thus a good form of prevention is to maintain good hand hygiene.

What are the symptoms of enterovirus

As we indicated at the beginning of this note, In most enterovirus infections, symptoms tend to be trivial, may even go unnoticed. Or, even if the symptoms appear, they tend to be similar to those caused by the flu.

For example, symptoms such as sneezing, cough, runny nose and congestion, fever, and muscle and body aches are common. In case of serious symptoms, special attention should be paid to other signs such as breathing with whistling (wheezing), difficulty breathing, seizures and tremors, double vision, difficulty speaking and balance problems or motors.

How to prevent enterovirus

Although it is true that there is no vaccine, it is necessary to know that prevention of enterovirus infection is possible. For this it is extremely useful to follow the following basic tips:

  • Maintain a good hygiene of the hands, washing them with hot water continuously, especially when we are going to eat, and especially after changing diapers.
  • Wash the cutlery thoroughly.
  • Wash child's pacifiers and toys well.
  • Wash the diaper changers well.

Is there a treatment for enterovirus?

Just like there is no vaccine there is no specific or effective medical treatment to help prevent enterovirus infection. However, drugs and medications are used that are very useful when it comes to relieving symptoms.

You have more information on | 20 Minutes / El PeriĆ³dico / El Mundo This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesRespiratory infections

EV-D68 Enterovirus Outbreak (July 2021)