Viruses – Enterovirus Overview

November 21st, 2010

Enteroviruses, also called Picornaviruses, are single stranded RNA viruses which produce rashes that I encounter frequently in my The Woodlands dermatology and Conroe dermatology offices.  Cocksackievirus, enterovirus 70 and 71, and echovirus are the the main viruses in this group that have skin manifestations.  Enterovirus infections are transmitted by person to person contact such as the fecal-oral, oral-oral, and respiratory routes.  They are easily diagnosed by obtaining viral cultures from the rectum, oral cavity, eyes or nose.  These viruses are responsible for many non-specific rashes that occur.  The rash typically consists of red macules and occasionally vesicles (blisters) that occur on the chest, back, extremities and the soft palate.  A unique feature of viral rashes is a halo around the red macules in which the skin immediately adjacent to the rash appears lighter than the surrounding “normal” skin.  Usually, patients infected with the Enteroviruses appear healthy and do not feel ill from the infection except with enterovirus 71 which can result in a fatal neurologic syndrome.  The four main skin eruptions which are addressed in their own blog entry are: Herpangina, Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, Boston Exanthem Disease, and Eruptive Pseudoangiomatosis.