Human enterovirus 71 (EV71) epidemics have affected various countries in the past 40 years. EV71 commonly causes hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in children, but can result in neurological and cardiorespiratory complications in severe cases. Genotypic changes of EV71 have been observed in different places over time, with the emergence of novel genotypes or subgenotypes giving rise to serious outbreaks. Since the late 1990s, intra- and inter-typic recombination events in EV71 have been increasingly reported in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, 'double-recombinant' EV71 strains belonging to a novel genotype D have been predominant in mainland China and Hong Kong over the last decade, though co-circulating with a minority of other EV71 subgenotypes and coxsackie A viruses. Continuous surveillance and genome studies are important to detect potential novel mutants or recombinants in the near future. Rapid and sensitive molecular detection of EV71 is of paramount importance in anticipating and combating EV71 outbreaks.
Keywords: evolution; genotype; hand, foot and mouth disease; human enterovirus 71; mutation; recombination.