Background: Human enterovirus 71 (HEV71) was isolated for the first time from an infant with encephalitis in California in 1969 and then spread through the world. It has emerged as a major cause of a vast variety of diseases such as epidemics of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), aseptic meningitis (AM), acute flaccid paralysis, and encephalitis. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of enterovirus 71 in children < 8 years old who were hospitalized due to primary diagnosis of AM in Tehran.
Methods: One hundred cerebrospinal fluid samples (CSF) were collected by physicians from children with a diagnosis of AM and transported on ice to the Pasteur Institute of Iran for further processing. Viral RNA was extracted and EV71 infection was detected by RT-PCR method using the specific primers.
Results: EV71 infection was detected in 14 patients (14%). Eight (57.14%) patients were younger than 2 years old, 11 (78.57%) were male and 3 (21.43%) were female. The seasonal peaks of EV71 were observed during autumn and winter with 6 (42.86%) and 5 (35.71%) cases, respectively.
Conclusions: EV71 should be considered as a causative agent of AM in Iran with the epidemiological pattern similar to that of other enteroviruses as males are more susceptible to be affected by these viruses. Further studies on this virus are needed to improve our knowledge about them in our country.