First isolated in California, USA, in 1969, enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a major public health issue across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The virus, which is closely related to polioviruses, mostly affects children and causes hand, foot, and mouth disease with neurological and systemic complications. Specific receptors for this virus are found on white blood cells, cells in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, and dendritic cells. Being an RNA virus, EV71 lacks a proofreading mechanism and is evolving rapidly, with new outbreaks occurring across Asia in regular cycles, and virus gene subgroups seem to differ in clinical epidemiological properties. The pathogenesis of the severe cardiopulmonary manifestations and the relative contributions of neurogenic pulmonary oedema, cardiac dysfunction, increased vascular permeability, and cytokine storm are controversial. Public health interventions to control outbreaks involve social distancing measures, but their effectiveness has not been fully assessed. Vaccines being developed include inactivated whole-virus, live attenuated, subviral particle, and DNA vaccines.
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