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Diseases & Topics

Enterovirus Infections

Enteroviruses are very common viruses. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. The most well-known is poliovirus, which has been eliminated from the United States through vaccination. It is estimated that 10–15 million non-polio enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. Most enterovirus infections in the United States occur seasonally during the summer and fall, and outbreaks of enterovirus tend to occur in several-year cycles.

Anyone can get infected with enteroviruses. Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious. Symptoms of mild illness may include: Fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, body and muscle aches. Some enterovirus infections can cause viral conjunctivitis; hand, foot, and mouth disease; or viral meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain). Less common severe infections can include: Myocarditis (infection of the heart); pericarditis (infection of the sac around the heart); encephalitis (infection of the brain); or paralysis.

Enteroviruses can be found in an infected person’s stool, eyes, nose, and mouth secretions. There are no vaccines against enteroviruses (with the exception of polio) and no specific treatments.

How to Prevent Enterovirus Infections

To help reduce the risk of infection with enteroviruses, health care providers recommend the following:

  1. Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers;
  2. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  3. Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick;
  4. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick; and
  5. Stay home when feeling sick.

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