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Context: Enterovirus infections are a serious health concern in several European countries, such as Croatia, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and Northern Ireland. The US is also monitoring the situation closely and preparing for a possible outbreak.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17 newborns have been infected with enterovirus in Europe as of June 26, 2023. The infection can cause severe complications and even death in some cases.
- A WHO spokesperson said that the number of cases in Europe has exceeded their expectations and warned of the potential risk of a pandemic. The spokesperson cited the "extremely rapid deterioration and associated case fatality rate amongst the affected babies" as the main reason for the alarm.
- There has been a rise in the number of children diagnosed with enterovirus in different US states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with state and local health authorities to identify and contain the outbreaks and prevent further spread of the virus.
What is Enterovirus?
- Enterovirus is a term that covers a variety of viruses that belong to the Picornaviridae family. These viruses can cause different types of infections, ranging from mild to severe, in humans and animals.
- Some of the common enteroviruses are echovirus, coxsackievirus, enterovirus, and poliovirus.
- Children and people with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to these infections.
Symptoms of enterovirus
- These viruses can cause mild to severe infections in humans, especially in children and people with weakened immune systems.
- Some common signs and symptoms of enterovirus infection include hand, foot, and mouth disease, myositis, rash, meningitis, and encephalitis. However, some people may not have any symptoms at all or may only experience mild respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.
- The severity of the infection depends on the type and strain of the virus, as well as the host's immune response.
- Enterovirus infections are common worldwide, but they usually cause mild symptoms. However, according to WHO, the mortality rate of enterovirus has increased significantly in recent years, especially among newborns.
- Newborns are more vulnerable to serious complications from enterovirus infections because their immune system is not fully developed.
- The rise of enterovirus cases in Europe has also raised concerns among US health authorities.
Enterovirus infections in India
- Enterovirus infections are a group of viral diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, nervous system and skin. They are common in children and can cause mild to severe symptoms.
- One of the most recent enterovirus infections in India was the 'tomato flu' that occurred in Kerala in May 2022. This infection caused small red bumps on the skin that resembled tomatoes. It was a variant of hand, foot and mouth disease, which is also caused by enteroviruses.
- India has witnessed several outbreaks of different enterovirus infections since 2003 when the first case was reported. The states that have been affected include Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam and the Andaman Islands.
As of now, there are no active cases of enterovirus infections in India. However, experts advise people to be vigilant and take preventive measures to avoid infections. These include washing hands frequently, avoiding contact with sick people, disinfecting surfaces and objects, and seeking medical attention if symptoms develop.
Q. How are enteroviruses mainly transmitted?
1. By direct contact with respiratory secretions or stool of an infected person.
2. By ingestion of contaminated food or water.
3. By inhalation of airborne droplets from an infected person.
Choose the correct code;
A) 1 and 2 only
B) 2 and 3 only
C) 1 and 3 only
D) 1, 2 and 3
Explanation: Enteroviruses can be transmitted by direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation of contaminated sources. They can also be transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces or environmental sources.