Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection causes a myriad of diseases from mild hand-foot-and-mouth disease or herpangina to fatal meningoencephalitis complicated with neurogenic pulmonary oedema. Its pathogenesis, especially the CNS involvement, is not clearly understood. The aim of this study was to set up a mouse EV71 infection model with CNS involvement. EV71 virus was administrated orally to neonatal mice. The EV71-infected mice manifested a skin rash at an early stage and hind limb paralysis or death at a later stage. Immunohistochemical staining and virus isolation demonstrated that EV71 replicated in the small intestine, induced viraemia and spread to various organs. Kinetic studies showed that EV71 antigen was first detected in the intestine at 6 h, in the thoracic spinal cord at 24 h, in the cervical spinal cord at 50 h and in the brain stem at 78 h post-infection. Leukocyte infiltration was evident in the spinal cord and brain stem. Furthermore, EV71 virus could be transmitted to littermates within the same cage.
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