You may become infected with an Enterovirus by direct contact with secretions from an EV infected person. Secretions are saliva, sputum (from lungs), nasal secretions, and feces.
You may become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with Enteroviruses, as well as using food and drinking utensils after an EV infected person.
There are many strains of EV, so you can inhale one strain, and ingest another.
On rare occassions, Enteroviruses may be transmitted through infected eye droplets. Acute hemorrahagic conjunctivitis could be Enterovirus 70 or Coxsackie A-24.
Enteroviruses impact the pulmonary and GI systems because most infections are either inhaled or ingested. This is how they "enter" your body.
Virus shedding from the lungs can spread to the stomach by swallowing sputum. They thrive in the acidic environment of our stomachs, so a small amount of sputum could multiply.
Enteroviruses shed in the stool, so transmission risk is higher for adults changing diapers, and for people who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Some EV strains may escape the immune system or demonstrate high infectivity levels and, therefore, may cause severe clinical syndromes, even in persons with healthy immune systems.
Enteroviruses are contagious during the acute stage and perhaps longer, as viral shedding can occur for several weeks, or even months.
A persistent cough, even after antibiotic treatment, should be a warning sign.
Young children are the largest group affected by enteroviruses because they touch everything and their immune systems are not fully developed.
Exposure to infected children increases the risk of developing chronic EV infection, so high risk individuals are mothers, grandmothers, teachers, day-care workers, or even flight attendants.
Parents should be cautious of children still coughing weeks after a respiratory infection. Most enteroviruses can continue to shed from the respiratory tract and the GI tract for more than eight weeks.
Enteroviruses can be present in contaminated food or water, especially undercooked shellfish and/or sushi. Patients should be cautious when eating "high risk foods", especially when their immune system is run down or weak.
Because EVs are easily dispersed, display serotypic and genetic diversity, and can tolerate extreme conditions, they are ubiquitous and can easily contaminate water.
The presence of these waterborne enteric pathogens in recreational water presents a potentially significant risk to human health.
Good personal and environmental hygiene are important measures in preventing EV infections.
Wash hands before/after eating, after changing a diaper, and after going to the bathroom
Never share personal items such as towels and eating utensils
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, furniture, and toilets with diluted bleach
Disinfect toys/places which are contaminated by secretions
Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and properly dispose of nasal and mouth discharge
Avoid close contact with patients infected with a cold (you don't know if it's EV)
Maintain good ventilation
Avoid foods that may be high risk (shell fish, sushi)