Epidemiological, clinical, and pathomorphological characteristics of epidemic poliomyelitis-like disease caused by enterovirus 71

J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 1979;23(3):284-95.


In May-September, 1975, an outbreak of epidemic disease clinically and pathomorphologically simulating nearly all known forms of poliomyelitis occurred predominantly among young infants in Bulgaria. Most cases presented benign aseptic meningitis, sometimes with a short period of general cerebra- symptoms. Paralytic forms, such as bulbar polioencephalitis, anterior poliomyelitis, isolated pareses of the facial nerve, occasional cases of encephalomyocarditis, etc., were observed in about 21% of all cases. Over one-fourth of the paralytic cases with bulbar symptoms ended fatally. In March, 1976 another sporadic fatal case of this disease was examined. No new cases occurred in 1977. Histopathological examinations in all fatal cases regularly revealed lesions in the grey matter of the medulla and spinal cord typical of acute anterior poliomyelitis and bulbar polioencephalitis, with some peculiar features of localization and depth of the involvement of the brain stem. The similarity to poliomyelitis and precariously rapid increase in the incidence led to the decision to urgently vaccinate the entire human population with Sabin's live poliovirus vaccine simultaneously in the whole country in order to produce interference with the circulating agent. This aim appeared to have been achieved partially because soon the number of new cases of the disease began to decrease; however, no sharp and complete break in the curve of the incidence occurred. By the time of mass vaccination, the results of virological examinations started before were not yet available. Later, comprehensive complete evidence was obtained that over 25 fatal and many other typical cases of the disease were associated with an enterovirus proved to be antigenically related to enterovirus 71. The diseases in Bulgaria, 1975, differ considerably in the frequency of paralytic forms and in severity from the epidemics caused by enterovirus 71 in Sweden, 1973, Australia, 1972--1973, USA, 1969--1972, and Japan, 1972--1973.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Bulgaria
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Enterovirus / isolation & purification
  • Enterovirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Enterovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Enterovirus Infections / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / pathology
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Seasons
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral