Have you been feeling sick for weeks, but don't know why? Have you been experiencing fatigue that is disabling or disruptive? Have you been to more than two doctors who cannot definatively diagnose you? You could have an Enterovirus (EV) infection. It's prevalent, but not regularly tested for.
There is a test available, and this website will teach you how to get tested and rule it out. It could improve your chance of a full or partial recovery, or most importantly prove that you are not insane.
Virus vs. Immune System
Enterovirus (EV) is a "collective name" for 5 subgroups of Picornaviruses. Pico means "tiny sized" RNA viruses (made of Ribonucleic Acid).
The family of Enteroviruses are the largest family of viruses known to man, containing over 70 strains.
Polio Viruses (PV)
Coxsackie A Viruses (CVA)
Coxsackie B Viruses (CVB)
Number based Enteroviruses (ex. EV 71)
Enteroviruses are the #1 most common cause of gastrointestinal infections, and the 2nd most common cause of respiratory infections each year in the U.S. (common cold is #1).
Most EV infections are acute, and short-lived like the flu (influenza), and most people recover quickly. But under conditions of immune suppression, or simply being infected with more than one strain at a time, can possibly result in chronic infection.
Patients at high risk of chronic infection would be those exposed to frequent colds, or those that eat contaminated food and/or water.
There are more than 15 million acute EV infections each year, and they are influenced by season and climate. In temperate areas, most infections occur in summer and early fall, but in tropical and semitropical areas, infections can occur all year round.
It is not known how many acute EV infections can progress to chronic disease, but Enteroviruses are now clinically associated with over 20 distinct syndromes. Patients are rarely screened for them because doctors still view them as "acute viruses", not able to establish chronic infection in humans.
In March 2014, 25 patients from California became infected with a strain called EV-68 that is causing paralysis. It is a rare strain that can penetrate the brain stem, like Polio, but it is not Polio. To read about this recent development, press here. To read about the recent August 2014 outbreak in the midwest, please press here.
Symptoms of acute EV infections are similar to symptoms of the common cold (Rhinovirus), so it's hard to distinguish the two. Rhinoviruses cannot progress to chronic disease, but Enteroviruses can.
Patients suffering from chronic EV infections can experience a variety of symptoms, as well as extreme fatigue, especially after exertion and/or physical activity.
Enteroviruses are primarily transmitted through the respiratory tract and/or the gastrointestinal tract.
You can inhale one strain, ingest a second one, or contract two strains at the same time. Infection of one EV strain does not provide immunity to others.
EV infections are still viewed as "acute" to most physicians, so screening a patient for a chronic EV infection would be rare. In addition, there is no approved antiviral treatment for EV infections, so physicians don't see the need to screen patients for it.
The complexity and the magnitude of more than 70 strains of Enteroviruses are overwhelming, and can discourage many doctors. It can ultimately lead to mistreatment within the medical community because it's easier to provide a "psychological" explanation, rather than visit the microbiology department. To read about the leading EV experts, click here.
The 2nd step is to undergo an endoscopy so stomach tissue can be collected. The tissue can then be sent to EV Med in California to test for the presence of EV protein, as well as EV RNA. It also can confirm chronic infection.
For Gatroenterologists and their patients, please click here.
Enteroviruses can thrive and replicate in the acidic environment of the stomach. This is unlike most viruses, which are killed by the high acid levels in our stomach.
When patients are infected through the respiratory tract, they can still swallow sputum that is coughed up from the lungs. Live virus can shed from the lungs for up to 3 months.
Symptoms of GI involvement may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or acid reflux. The more severe the symptoms, the higher amount of virus is probably present in the GI tract.
After Enteroviruses replicate in the respiratory and GI tract, they can then spread to other organs such as the liver, pancreas, and colon.
A 2013 Swedish study showed that 100% of children with Crohn's disease, tested positive for EV infections in the gastrointestinal tract.
Another 2013 study of type 1diabetes, demonstrated that Enteroviruses play a role as a causative agent.
Enteroviruses can also spread to the brain and muscles.
Symptoms for some patients can be headaches, memory loss, and depression, while other patients suffer from body aches and muscle pain. Many patients have both.
The type of doctor seen will dictate the diagnosis.
Neurologists and psychologists will tend to diagnose bi-polar disease, while Rheumatologists will diagnose muscle disorders like fibromyalgia syndrome.
Since there is no approved antiviral treatment for EV infections, boosting the body's immune system is important.
Proper rest can improve a patient's immune function, especially REM sleep.
Diet and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, can help improve a patient's immune function, reduce the symptoms, and improve overall health and well being.
Eliminating and/or reducing stress can also help strengthen the immune system's response.
Medications that can suppress your immune system, should be avoided.
High risk patients are those who get frequent colds, and/or ingest shell fish and/or sushi, as these foods contain large amounts of Enteroviruses in them.
The medical and scientific community are slow to research Enteroviruses, but if more patients got tested, the pharmaceutical industries would take notice and be motivated to develop treatments for a high unmet medical need.
Knowledge is empowering and healing....get tested and rule out an Enterovirus infection.