Diagnosis and investigation of outbreak of enterovirus 71 in Taiwan


In 1998, thousands of children in Taiwan became ill with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) and, ultimately, 50 died.

IDPB examined tissue obtained from one of the 50 fatal cases. Using a variety of diagnostic techniques, analysis of this tissue revealed infection with enterovirus 71, or EV71.

EV71 is known to cause HFMD. Identification of the cause of an outbreak allows public health officials and other medical staff to better respond and treat ill patients.

IDPB also examined autopsy tissue from another fatal case with symptoms nearly identical to the confirmed EV71 case. Study of this case revealed infection with a different virus, Japanese encephalitis virus. Because of the similarities between the two viruses, this finding emphasized the importance of performing autopsies with an array of pathologic methods, as similar diseases can be caused by different pathogens.