The Enterovirus 71 Advisory Circulating on Social Networks

Enterovirus71 (Photo Credit : Facebook)
Enterovirus71 (Photo Credit : Facebook)
Enterovirus71     (Photo   Credit  :     Facebook)
Enterovirus71 (Photo Credit : Facebook)

This photo and the succeeding paragraph has been spreading on the social network for some days now, owing to the global news that a “Mystery Illness” has killed Cambodian children just recently.

As copy/pasted:

“This Is The Symptom Of The Disease Which Claimed Many Kids’ Life In Cambodia….It Was An Unknown Disease But Now, At Pasteur Institute, They Said It’s Caused By A Virus Called EnteroVirus 71 Or EV71…So If you Have Little Cousins Or Siblings, Please Be Careful and Don’t Think That It Is Just Chicken Pox.”


Yes…netizens have been sharing it for the past days; somehow, it hopes to spread information for the public to be aware that the “mystery illness” which killed Cambodian children has now been named, the EV71 or Enterovirus71, and that it resembles Chicken Pox.

However, after several half-truths shared on the social networks, we shouldn’t believe EVERYTHING we read and see.  We should seek out the truth, because it could cause panic from misinformation or feed wrong information.  Let’s find out the truth behind the circulating photo and attached information.

Is it really similar to chicken pox?  Such that if our kids have chicken pox,  could it possibly be EV71 instead of chicken pox as we thought?  Now, that can be truly alarming!

What EV71 is:

Enterovirus71  or EV71  is a virus of the genus Enterovirus in the Picornaviridae family notable for its etiological role in epidemics of severe neurological diseases in children;  first isolated and characterized from cases of neurological disease in California in 1969.

This virus is a member of the enterovirus species A. This virus appears to have evolved only recently with the first known strain isolated in 1965. It was associated with an outbreak of neurological disease in the United States in 1969. It spread then to Europe with outbreaks there in Bulgaria (1975) and Hungary (1978). It has since spread to various countries in Asia where it has been responsible for several outbreaks, most recently in Cambodia(2012).

In simpler terms, EV71 is a virus that can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death; and so far, research tells us that no mention was made wherever that EV71 resembles chicken pox.  However, The Enterovirus 71 infection may be asymptomatic or it may cause diarrhea, rashes, and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

About the Cambodia news on EV71 Outbreak:

Recently, Cambodian health officials disclosed that they have identified the cause of a small but deadly outbreak, which resulted in more than 60 deaths among their Cambodian children between ages 2 and 3,  for the past three months.  Although investigation and studies are still ongoing, early testing disclosed evidence of Enterovirus Type 71 in 15 out of 24 samples examined thereon.

As per the global news, 64 children died among the 66 admitted at the Kantha Bopha facilities in the southern part of Cambodia,  after suffering neurological and respiratory complications and  most of them died within 24-48 hours of admission.  Other than suffering from encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, some of the victim children were found to have had  severe damage to their lungs.  Most of the Cambodian cases involved children younger than 3 who experienced fever, sore throat and respiratory problems that led to rapid shutdown and sometimes neurological symptoms. Epidemiologists are still trying to piece together information about the cases by interviewing parents because some details may have been omitted or missing from medical charts and specimens were not taken from most children before they died,

EV71  facts:

  • It often causes cold-like symptoms and diarrhea.
  •  It is a common cause of  Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease or HFMD in children.
  • It is moderately contagious and can be  spread through direct contact with the mucus, saliva, blisters or feces of an infected person.
  • The typical incubation period is 3-7 days.
  • EV71 symptoms  generally last 4-6 days, but a person is still infectious for as long as the virus is present in the feces, which may last for several weeks.
  • It can lead to severe neurologic disease, like meningitis, brain stem encephalitis, neurogenic pulmonary edema, and acute flaccid paralysis.
  • The variation in severity of symptoms appears to be related to different genotypes of the virus, and the presence of other viruses.

Is there Treatment for EV71?

At present, the medical field has found  NO treatment yet for EV71 except to warn the public to go back to the basics of  washing  hands thoroughly and frequently, using soap and water before eating and drinking, before and after using the washroom or toilet and observing strict personal hygiene to avoid and prevent the spread of the previously-announced “mysterious disease” that has already claimed the lives of several children in Cambodia.  However, patients infected with the disease are advised by the World health organization to drink plenty of fluids to reduce the chance of dehydration due to high fever and to avoid taking steroids.

WHO further relays to  parents to seek medical help if their children suddenly develop high fever, vomit and show signs of  lethargy and limb weakness.

It is also worth knowing that HFMD or Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is less common in adults, owing to the  well-developed immune systems in adults which are able to contain the virus, but those with immune deficiencies like children are more susceptible.  HFMD shouldn’t be confused with FMD orFoot-and-Mouth Disease  in animals.

What the Circulating Photo is all about:

It appears that certain panic can be caused by the incomplete dissemination of information as per the shared Advisory on the social networking sites.  The photo goes back to Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), the viral illness that has killed 26 people in China this year and which has also infected over 3,000 children in Vietnam since the start of the year, killing at least ten, according to their health  officials.

Most of those infected are children below 10 years old living in the country’s southern provinces, according to their  head of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department.

The HFMD symptoms include the appearance of small red vesicles in the palms, feet and mouth, as well as light fever, nausea and loss of appetite.  It doesn’t follow that those with EV71 has manifestations on their skin as shown in the circulating photo.   To reiterate, EV-71 is a virus that can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death; and that most of the Cambodian cases reported in the news  involved children younger than 3 who experienced fever, respiratory problems that led to rapid shutdown and sometimes neurological symptoms.  There was no mention that those who died had small red vesicles in the palms, feet and mouth similar to chicken pox.

Which means that the circulating advisory is, again, a half-truth.

Web Sources:

“Mystery Illness” Killing Cambodian Children Associated with EV71 Virus