What are enteroviruses?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

The human enteroviruses are ubiquitous viruses that are transmitted from person to person via direct contact with virus shed from the gastrointestinal or upper respiratory tract. The enteroviruses belong to the Picornaviridae family of viruses and are traditionally divided into 5 subgenera based on differences in host range and pathogenic potential. [9] Each subgenus contains a number of unique serotypes, which are distinguished based on neutralization by specific antisera. The subgenera include polioviruses, coxsackievirus (groups A and B), and echoviruses.

A total of 72 serotypes were originally identified by conventional methods; 64 serotypes remain after recognition of redundant serotypes. Three serotypes comprise the polioviruses, 23 serotypes comprise coxsackievirus group A, 6 serotypes comprise coxsackievirus group B, and 29 serotypes comprise the echoviruses. A new classification scheme has been adopted that divides all nonpolio enterovirus into 4 groups designated A through D based on the homology within RNA region coding for the VP1 capsid protein. [10] More recently, many new serotypes that are not included in the original classification have been characterized by molecular methods, bringing the number of known serotypes to more than 90. [11, 12]


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