A virus that comes into the body through the gastrointestinal tract and thrives there, often moving on to attack the nervous system. The polioviruses are enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are small viruses that are made of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. In addition to the three different polioviruses, there are 61 non-polio enteroviruses that can cause disease in humans: 23 Coxsackie A viruses, 6 Coxsackie B viruses, 28 echoviruses, and 4 other enteroviruses. Non-polio enteroviruses are second only to the "common cold" viruses, the rhinoviruses, as the most common viral infectious agents in humans. The enteroviruses cause an estimated 10-15 million or more symptomatic infections a year in the United States. All three types of polioviruses have been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere by the widespread use of vaccines. Enteroviruses can be found in the respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) and stool of an infected person. Other persons may become infected by direct contact with secretions from an infected person or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as a drinking glass or telephone. Parents, teachers, and child care center workers may also become infected by contamination of the hands with stool from an infected infant or toddler during diaper changes. Infections caused by enteroviruses are most likely to occur during the summer and fall. Most people who are infected with an enterovirus have no disease at all. Infected persons who become ill usually develop either mild upper respiratory symptoms (a "cold"), a flu-like illness with fever and muscle aches, or an illness with rash. Less commonly, some persons have aseptic or viral meningitis. Rarely, a person may develop an illness that affects the heart (myocarditis) or the brain (encephalitis) or causes paralysis. Enterovirus infections are suspected to play a role in the development of juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). Newborns who become infected with an enterovirus may rarely develop an overwhelming infection of many organs, including liver and heart, and die from the infection. There are usually no long-term complications from the mild illnesses or from aseptic meningitis. Some patients who have paralysis or encephalitis, however, do not fully recover. Persons who develop heart failure (dilated cardiomyopathy) from myocarditis require long-term care for their conditions. No vaccine is currently available for the enteroviruses, aside from polio. General cleanliness and frequent handwashing are probably effective in reducing the spread of these viruses.
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A large and diverse group of viruses (family Picornaviridae) that includes poliovirus types 1 to 3, Coxsackievirus A and B, echoviruses, and the enteroviruses identified since 1969 and assigned type numbers. They are transient inhabitants of the alimentary canal and are stable at low pH.

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en·tero·vi·rus -'vī-rəs n
1) cap a genus of single-stranded RNA viruses of the family Picornaviridae that multiply esp. in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and swine but may infect other tissues (as nerve and muscle), that may produce clinically evident conjunctivitis, encephalitis, meningitis, myelitis, or myocarditis, and that include the poliovirus and several species including numerous serotypes named as coxsackieviruses and echoviruses
2) any picornavirus of the genus Enterovirus
en·tero·vi·ral -rəl adj

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any virus that enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, multiplies there, and then (generally) invades the central nervous system. Enteroviruses include Coxsackie virus and poliovirus.

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En·tero·vi·rus (enґtər-o-vi″rəs) [entero- + virus] the enteroviruses, a genus of viruses of the family Picornaviridae that preferentially inhabit the intestinal tract. Infection is usually asymptomatic or mild but may result in a variety of disease syndromes. Human enteroviruses were originally classified as polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, or echoviruses and numbered sequentially within each group; because the boundaries between these groups have become indistinct, new enteroviruses are designated by a continuous numbering system, beginning with human enterovirus 68. The original groups continue to be used for previously discovered viruses. Enteroviruses also infect a wide range of animals and are grouped by host.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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