The purpose of this review was to explore the epidemiology, pathogenesis, virology, and management of enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection. Published literature was surveyed by Medline using the keyword "EV71." The reported incidence of cases of hand-foot-mouth disease/herpangina varied from year to year; seasonal variations in incidence were observed, with a peak in incidence during the summer season. Most cases of hand-foot-mouth disease/herpangina hospitalized for complications occurred in children less than 5 years old. The brainstem was the most likely major target of EV71 infection. Different enteroviruses cocirculate in the community annually. The emergence of the EV71 epidemic in the Asia Pacific region has been associated with the circulation of 5 genetic lineages (genotypes B3, B4, C1, C2, C4) that appear to be undergoing rapid evolutionary changes. The relationship between the gene structure of the EV71 virus and the factors that ensure its survival, ease of transmission, and evasion of immunity is still unclear. EV71 central nervous system involvement causes serious clinical illness, death, and long-term neurologic and psychiatric disorders in young children. EV71 infection has emerged as an important public health problem. Vaccine development is recommended for the prevention of EV71 infection in the future.
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