Background: An outbreak of enterovirus infections occurred throughout Taiwan in 1998. The diseases were manifectated with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), some associated with meningitis, encephalitis, or acute flaccid paralysis (AFP).
Objectives: This study is aimed to characterize and analyze the epidermologic and clinical features during the outbreak.
Study design: The epidemiologic information was collected from the Ministry of Health on passive surveillance; clinical and virological investigations were carried out at National Cheng Kung University Medical Center.
Results: Between April and December 1998, 405 children were hospitalized, and 78 patients died during this outbreak in Taiwan. There were 119 cases identified to be EV71 infection in Tainan and Chiayi areas; 105 cases by virus isolation and 14 by serological assay. The outbreak had a biphasic curve with peak in June and October, especially in the southern Taiwan. Seventy-two percent of patients were below 3 years of age. The spectrum of disease included HFMD in 54, HFMD with central nerve system (CNS) involvement in 37, herpangina in 12, aseptic meningitis in three, encephalitis/ meningoencephalitis in ten, acute flaccid paralysis in three. There was nine fatal cases complicated with neurogenic pulmonary edema. Myoclonus with sleep disturbance was the most important early sign of EV71 infection with CNS involvement.
Conclusion: Our experience demonstrated that the EV71 isolated in Taiwan had strong dermatotropic as well as neurotropic tendencies. Early detecting CNS involvement and commencing aggressive therapy may reduce the mortality.