Enterovirus (EV) is a "collective name" for 5 subgroups of Picornaviruses. Pico means "tiny sized" RNA viruses (made of Ribonucleic Acid). Even though they are small RNA viruses, EV's are the largest family of viruses known to man.
Enteroviruses contain over 70 strains. They include Polio viruses, Echo viruses, and Coxsackie viruses. They even include random numbered Enteroviruses like EV-68 and EV-71.
Enteroviruses are the leading cause of acute gastrointestinal infections in the U.S. each year, and they are the 2nd most common cause of acute respiratory infections in the U.S. every year. Rhinoviruses are #1 (common cold). Both Rhinoviruses and Enteroviruses are picornaviruses.
Enteroviruses are RNA based viruses, like HIV and Hepatitis C, and they are not DNA viruses like Epstein Barr, Mononucleosis, and the Herpes Zoster Virus (shingles).
An infection with an RNA virus, like EV, can trigger an activation of a DNA viruses (laying dormant).
Symptoms of acute EV infections are similar to symptoms of the common cold (Rhinovirus), so it's hard to distinguish the two. Both cause runny noses, sore throats, body aches, fever, chills,....etc. But Rhinoviruses cannot evolve to chronic disease.
The complexity and magnitude of more than 70 Enterovirus strains can be overwhelming, intimidating, and discouraging for many doctors.
It ultimately leads to mistreatment of the patient because it's easier to provide a "psychological" explanation, rather than sending the patients' blood to the microbiology department.
Enteroviruses are primarily transmitted through the respiratory tract and/or the gastrointestinal tract. This is how they ENTER our bodies, we inhale them, or we swallow them.
Enteroviruses can also be transmitted through the eye. Acute conjunctivitis is Coxsackie A-24 virus.
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. Chronic is defined as illness lasting 6 months or more.
If Enteroviruses are not stopped by the immune system in the ENTERO-tract, or during the acute phase, then the infection can eventually spread to the brain and muscles, and other organs.
It's not known how many acute EV infections can progress to chronic disease, but Enteroviruses are now clinically associated with over 20 distinct syndromes, all chronic diseases. Most commonly, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Crohn's Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
In Sweden, 24 children with Crohn's disease were tested for the presence of EV in their GI tracts. The 2013 Swedish study showed that 100% of children with Crohn's disease, tested positive for EV in the gastrointestinal tract. All 24 children with mild to severe Crohn's had EV infections.
In California, Dr. John Chia demonstrated that 82% of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome had evidence of a persistent (chronic) EV infection. Their stomachs contained both Enterovirus RNA, as well as enterovirus protein, which demonstrates replicating virus.
Functional Dyspepsia remains one of the most elusive GI disorders. In this study, Dyspepsia patients with or without CFS/ME were evaluated, and 63% of them had double stranded EV RNA in their stomach biopsies, which not only supported the immunoperoxide staining, but also offered a possible mechanism of viral persistence.
Patients at high risk of chronic EV infection would be those exposed to frequent colds, those that eat contaminated food and/or water, and those who have compromised immune systems. Or those who experience all of the above.
Other high risk patients: frequent airplane travelers, having young children present, and/or participation in swimming pool sports. Even the most pristine pool can still have small particles of live Enterovirus.
Patients can try to stop the acute EV infection when it's in the upper respiratory tract (nose, sinuses), before it spreads to the lower respiratory tract (the lungs). Once in the lungs, EV can spread to the upper GI tract (stomach) and lower GI tract (colon and rectum).
Acute EV infections that turn chronic, can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on how the patient contracted the virus. Symptoms can become worse after physical exertion or stress.
Boosting the body's immune system will be vital, as there is no approved antiviral drug to take. The body is busy fighting a RNA virus, so patients must also manage bacterial infections, fungal infections, and general pre-cancer screening.
There is no approved antiviral treatment for EV infections, so many physicians don't see the need to screen patients for it. But, many doctors would plan their patients' treatment differently if they knew that a chronic viral infection was involved.
Awareness will increase if more patients are correctly diagnosed with EV infections.
2nd step: Undergo an endoscopy so that tissue from the stomach can be collected.
Enteroviruses like to replicate in the parietal cells of your stomach, so that is where the presence of EV protein and EV RNA can be found. If both are found, then the virus is replicating. To have samples tested, and for specific instructions, click here.
The most common way that patients become chronically infected with EV, is when the infection starts in the respiratory tract, and patients swallow the sputum that is coughed up from the lungs. Once swallowed, EV can thrive in the acidic environment of our stomachs (replicate).
Live virus can shed from the lungs for up to 3 months before patients develop symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, acid reflux, or dyspepsia. The more severe the symptoms are, the more likely that the the EV viral load is high. Crohn's patients have a high amount of virus in their GI tracts.
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 body's immune response.
Medications that can suppress your immune system, should be avoided.
Since Enteroviruses thrive and replicate in the acidic environment of our stomachs, patients can take acid blockers, and/or switch to alkaline water to try and control viral replication.
The medical and scientific community are slow to research Enteroviruses, but if more patients got diagnosed, then there may be more motivation from pharmaceutical companies to develop a safe and effective antiviral treatment. Their motivation should be focused on patients' needs, not market share.
EV infections are: a high unmet medical need, can be life threatening, and can cause immense amounts of human suffering, not to mention a high risk for developing cancer.
Knowledge is empowering, please get tested and rule out an Enterovirus infection.
You can improve your health and accelerate your recovery.