Echoviruses fall into the larger category of enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are very common, and there are many different strains that can cause different kinds of infections. Most of the time, people have very mild symptoms if any at all.
Many kinds of enteroviruses live within your digestive system and usually do not cause any illness. Echovirus stands for "enteric cytopathic human orphan." In certain cases, it can cause very serious symptoms or death.
You may need expert medical treatment to manage an echovirus infection if your immune system is weakened by another condition, or if you are very young or old. Most serious cases of echovirus infections impact children and infants.
How Echovirus 11 is Spread
There are 32 specific subgroups of echoviruses, called serotypes. Echovirus 11 is one of them. There are many documented cases of echovirus 11 causing very serious illness in infants and young children. Researchers are still working to understand these viruses.
Most echoviruses spread through contact with fecal matter. Newborns can get the virus during birth from their mother. The virus may not cause any symptoms in your digestive tract, but it can cause a dangerous infection in someone with a weakened or less-developed immune system.
Some studies have noted that there can be outbreaks of enteroviruses, including echovirus 11, in larger communities. Outbreaks can also happen in smaller groups of children, like those who share a nursery or care facility.
Most cases of echovirus in adults come from being exposed to infected children.
Symptoms of Echovirus 11
When newborn babies are exposed to echovirus 11, it can cause a variety of illnesses that may be life-threatening. These include:
- Sepsis — a body-wide infection response that can be fatal if untreated
- Meningoencephalitis — a swelling of the membranes around your brain and spinal cord
- Myocarditis — inflammation of your heart muscle
- Hepatitis — inflammation of your liver
- Encephalitis — swelling of your brain
Symptoms of echovirus 11 infections in babies, as well as adults, can include:
Symptoms can appear gradually or very quickly in different people. They tend to appear more rapidly in babies.
Complications of Echovirus 11
The complications of an echovirus 11 infection can be very serious — even deadly.
These may include meningitis or encephalitis, which is inflammation of your brain or its surrounding membranes. In this case, you might have severe neurological symptoms including palsy, muscle weakness, or paralysis.
An echovirus 11 infection could severely damage your heart, liver, or kidneys. This may lead to permanent problems in these organs. If the harm is severe enough, your doctor may recommend pursuing an organ transplant.
How Echovirus 11 is Diagnosed
Your doctor will utilize a series of lab tests to try and identify the virus if they suspect you have an echovirus infection. Tests they can use include:
Echovirus 11 Prevention and Treatment
There are no vaccines or known ways to completely prevent the spread of echoviruses like echovirus 11. Most people can have an echovirus or enterovirus present in their body and have no symptoms at all. Some have mild symptoms that resolve on their own.
The best way to prevent spreading any enterovirus is to thoroughly wash your hands and disinfect surfaces.
Similarly, there is no specific treatment for echovirus 11.
If you have an echovirus 11 infection, your doctor will work to manage your symptoms so they do not get worse or become life-threatening. Your specific treatment will depend on your symptoms, but may include:
- Breathing support — using treatments like supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation, your doctor can make sure your body is getting enough oxygen
- Medication to reduce inflammation or fluid buildup — specialized medicine can reduce the strain put on your heart or kidneys if too much fluid starts to gather around them
- Fever management — if you have a fever, your doctor may give you medicine to reduce it
- Organ transplant — if organs like your heart or liver are severely damaged and begin to fail, your doctor may recommend replacing them
Outlook for Echovirus 11 Infection
If you have an echovirus infection, your outlook will depend largely on your age and if you have other underlying conditions.
Many newborn babies who are infected with echovirus 11 do not survive. When more than one of their organs become impacted by the infection, it is often overwhelming for their bodies.
Older babies and children are more likely to survive an echovirus 11 infection or another kind of enterovirus infection.
If you have a condition that compromises your immune system, you could also be more vulnerable to an echovirus 11 infection. Your doctor will make specific decisions on your treatment and individual prognosis, depending on your other conditions and the symptoms you experience.