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Enterovirus Infections


Overview :

There are four groups of enteroviruses: Coxsackievirus, Echovirus, ungrouped Enterovirus, and Y Poliovirus.

Viruses are generally divided into those that use DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA as their genetic material; all enteroviruses are RNA viruses. They are found worldwide, but infection is more common in areas of poor hygiene and overcrowding.

Although most cases of enterovirus do not produce symptoms, some five to 10 million individuals in the United States each year suffer from one of the enteroviral diseases. Illness is more common in the very young. While there are close to 70 different strains of enteroviruses, over 70% of infections are caused by only 10 types.

The virus is most commonly transmitted by the fecal-oral route (contamination of fingers or objects by human waste material); in some instances transmission is through contaminated food or water. Passage of some strains of virus by way of air droplets can lead to respiratory illness. Infection of fetuses by way of the placenta also has been documented. Breast milk contains antibodies which can protect newborns.

The incubation period for most enteroviruses ranges from two to 14 days. In areas of temperate climate, infections occur mainly in the summer and fall.




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