Background: An outbreak of hand-foot-and-mouth disease caused by enterovirus infection occurred in Taiwan in 1998 and more than 70 infants and children with fulminant courses died. We compared the cardiac manifestations of fatal cases with patients who survived the enterovirus infection.
Methods: A total 187 patients with enterovirus infection were treated at Taichung Veterans General Hospital between April and June 1998. Enterovirus infection was diagnosed by history, clinical features, polymerase chain reaction study and/or viral culture. Cardiac examinations including complete physical examinations, electrocardiography and echocardiography were performed on seven cases (group I) with or without central nervous system (CNS) involvement, 30 patients with CNS involvement (group II), and 150 patients without CNS involvement (group III).
Results: There were no significant differences in sex distribution, days of fever, heart rate, systemic blood pressure or time from the onset of symptoms to hospital admission among the three groups. All group I patients had features of acute congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema and neurologic signs except one who presented with right-sided heart failure and neurologic signs. The echocardiographic findings of group I were a lower fractional shortening, lower ejection fraction, and more severe and higher incidence of mitral regurgitation (p < 0.01) than in groups II and III, but there were no significant differences in end-systolic wall stress, left ventricular end-diastolic internal dimension and incidence of pericardial effusion among the three groups.
Conclusions: We conclude that seven infants and children (group I) died due to either severe cardiomyopathy or encephalopathy. The possible pathogenesis of enterovirus infection leading to death is reviewed and analyzed.