Sunday, October 5, 2014

Enterovirus D68 on the Loose!
--By Joe Getsy

Enteroviruses are Picornaviruses (naked, icosahedral, ssRNA) that cause gastroenteritis, a set of symptoms that unrelated viruses (e.g. Picobirnaviruses, Astroviruses and Caliciviruses) may cause as well. One notable Picornavirus is Polio. A Picornavirus that has been making headlines recently, Enterovirus 68, presents polio-like symptoms. Its prevalence has been increasing recently, and for most of the time since it was discovered in 1962, cases of Enterovirus 68 were quite rare in the United States. In fact, Enterovirus 68 recently killed a 4-year old boy in New Jersey. He showed no signs of illness before going to sleep and not waking up.

Doctors have isolated the virus from respiratory tract mucus; it is likely that the virus spreads person-to-person through sneezing and fluid contact; however, nobody knows how this boy contracted the virus. Enterovirus 68 has been implicated in respiratory dysfunction in children across the United States. This virus may be associated with a string of pediatric neurological illnesses in children in Colorado. Most enteroviruses do not cause fatal disease, and experts don’t completely understand it yet. To date there is no vaccine for Enterovirus D68, so you stay hygienic, Stanford!

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