A to Z: Enterovirus
Enteroviruses (en-ter-oh-VY-rus-sez) are a common cause of infection in people of all ages, with symptoms that can range from mild to serious. Most enterovirus infections happen in the summer and fall. Most infections do not cause serious harm and go away in just a few days.
More to Know
There are many kinds of enteroviruses, including coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, polioviruses, the hepatitis A virus, and others. These common viruses infect millions of Americans every year. They can infect anyone, but are more likely to cause illnesses in infants, children, and teens who haven’t developed immunity against the virus yet (from not being previously exposed to it), and people with weak immune systems.
Most people who get infected with an enterovirus don’t get sick. When someone does get sick, symptoms include:
Less often, enteroviruses can cause:
- conjunctivitis (pinkeye)
- hand, foot, and mouth disease
- pericarditis (infection of the sac that surrounds the heart)
- acute flaccid myelitis
- breathing problems (more likely in young babies or children with asthma or a weak immune system)
Enteroviruses spread easily from person to person, usually on unwashed hands and surfaces contaminated by feces (poop), where they can live for several days.
There is no specific treatment for enterovirus infection other than relieving symptoms until the infection has run its course, which is usually not more than a few days.
Keep in Mind
Although enteroviruses can cause serious illness, enterovirus infections usually are mild. Most cause no symptoms at all. If symptoms are severe or last more than a few days, call a doctor right away.
Many enterovirus infections can be prevented by washing hands well and often, avoiding contact with sick people, and keeping household surfaces clean and disinfected.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.