Enteroviruses, a group of viruses that cause a variety of infections, usually only lead to mild symptoms, such as a common cold. But in some cases — especially in young children or people with compromised immune systems — serious complications can develop.
Traditionally, enteroviruses were classified into four subgroups: polioviruses, coxsackievirus A, coxsackievirus B, and echoviruses.In 2019, genetic studies led to the reclassification of 15 species of the enterovirus genus into enterovirus species A–L and rhinovirus species A–C, with multiple subtypes (aka “serotypes”).
Members of the enterovirus genus mutate and recombine easily within species, so hybrid and variant enteroviruses continue to be identified.

Because polio infection is complex and has been mostly eradicated worldwide, this article will discuss non-polio enteroviruses.

Causes and Risk Factors of Non-Polio Enterovirus Infections

Infections with non-polio enteroviruses are common in the United States during summer and fall.One of the biggest risk factors for infection is being an infant, child or adolescent, because most adults have been previously infected and have acquired immunity to enteroviruses.

Duration of Enterovirus Infections

Most enterovirus infections cause only mild symptoms, which last about a week, and the virus leaves no lasting effects.

But severe infections can lead to long-term complications (see Complications, below).

Complications of Non-Polio Enterovirus Infections

Enteroviruses are varied and can impact different people in different ways. In cases of mild illness with fever or sore throat, children can get dehydrated. If an enterovirus causes blisters on the skin, skin infections may develop if the blisters are not kept clean.

More serious complications include severe respiratory problems or even paralysis and death.

People who develop myocarditis as a result of an enterovirus infection may have heart failure and need long-term care.

In rare cases, newborns infected with a non-polio enterovirus may develop sepsis, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

According to the CDC, non-polio enterovirus infections may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes in children.

Research and Statistics: Who Gets Enterovirus Infections?

Non-polio enteroviruses cause 10 to 15 million infections in the United States each year and tens of thousands of hospitalizations. The people most vulnerable to severe illness are newborns and people with compromised immune systems.

Resources We Love

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC's website has a wealth of up-to-date info on non-polio enteroviruses, including what symptoms and complications they may cause, how to prevent the spread of infection, and a section on outbreaks and surveillance.


Infants and children with asthma have a greater risk of developing breathing problems and complications from enterovirus infections, so it's important that parents access trusted information on the topic. HealthyChildren.org, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, offers just that.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

  • Enterovirus Surveillance Guidelines: Guidelines for Enterovirus Surveillance in Support of the Polio Eradication Initiative. WHO Regional Office for Europe and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
  • Virus Taxonomy: The ICTV Report on Virus Classification and Taxon Nomenclature. Genus: Enterovirus. International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. July 2019.
  • Disease of the Week: Enteroviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 2020.
  • Non-Polio Enteroviruses: Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2020.
  • Enterovirus Infection: The Symptoms and Signs. EnteroVirus Foundation.
  • Enterovirus D68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2020.
  • Non-Polio Enterovirus: For Health Care Professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2020.
  • Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 2019.
  • Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know. HealthyChildren.org. March 2019.
  • Messacar K, et al. Notes From the Field: Enterovirus A71 Neurologic Disease in Children—Colorado, 2018. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). September 2018.


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