Enteroviruses Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Medical Care

Polio management is supportive in nature, as follows:

  • Abortive polio: Treatment with bed rest and minimal exertion may be done at home. Supportive treatment with analgesics and sedatives may be used.
  • Nonparalytic polio: Management is similar to that of abortive polio. Combine analgesic therapy with hot packs for pain relief.
  • Paralytic polio: In contrast to abortive and nonparalytic polio, which can be managed at home, patients with paralytic polio require hospitalization.
  • Bed rest is required during the early stages of the disease because exertion may worsen the paralysis.
  • Applying hot packs to affected muscles may alleviate pain.
  • Align the body in a neutral position to minimize deformity. Patients should start physical therapy soon after the resolution of pain. Physical therapy should include both active and passive exercises.
  • Mechanical ventilation may be required if respiratory muscles are affected.
  • Postural drainage and suction should be implemented in mild bulbar polio.
  • Patients with weakness or paralysis of the bladder may be treated with cholinergic agents, the sound of running water, or catheterization.


Treatment is symptomatic, using analgesics and heat application for pain relief. Severe pain may require opiate analgesics.

Aseptic meningitis

Treatment is symptomatic, with analgesics for headache relief. Headache is often severe and prolonged in adults; potent analgesics should be administered, when necessary.


Treatment is mainly supportive in nature and involves management of pericardial pain, pericardial effusion, arrhythmias, and heart failure.

Bed rest is important since exercise can increase the degree of myocardial necrosis.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy has shown some benefit in small case-control studies. Nevertheless, most reports lack statistical significance, and randomized trials are needed. [63, 64]

Capsid-binding inhibitors belong to a class of drugs that have shown benefit in some immunosuppressed patients with myocarditis. However, these drugs are not available for use in the United States. [65]

Corticosteroids yield little or no benefit, and immunosuppressive therapy is contraindicated during the acute phase of viral myocarditis because they have been shown to cause clinical deterioration. [66]

Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis

Treatment is primarily symptomatic in nature.

Antimicrobial agents are not indicated unless bacterial superinfection occurs. Corticosteroids are contraindicated.

Cold compresses may be used, along with antihistamine/decongestant eye drops.

Herpangina and hand-foot-and-mouth disease

Symptomatic treatment for sore throat is the mainstay of treatment, including analgesics, topical anesthetics, mouth wash, and saline rinses.

Viscous lidocaine (2% solution) may be helpful.


Surgical Care

Cardiac transplantation may be required in severe cases of dilated cardiomyopathy due to enteroviral infection.



Consultation with a physiatrist is helpful to plan specific exercise programs, to direct physical therapy, and to provide adaptive equipment for patients with paralytic polio.

Consultation with a cardiologist may be requested in myopericarditis for management of arrhythmias.

Consultation with a cardiovascular surgeon may be required for the management of complicated pericardial effusions and in some cases for cardiac transplantation.

Consultation with an ophthalmologist is appropriate for AHC.

Consultation with a neurologist is recommended in cases of paralytic polio.

Physical and occupational therapists help patients with polio to establish a safe exercise program, to adapt the home environment, and to use mechanical aids (eg, grab bars).

Consultation with an infectious disease specialist may be useful in cases of unexplained aseptic meningitis or myopericarditis.



Patients with paralytic polio should be encouraged to maintain a high fluid intake.

The application of hot packs leads to sweating, meaning that fluids need to be replenished.

High fluid intake protects against nephrocalcinosis and urinary tract infections due to prolonged immobilization.

A diet rich in L-carnitine is under research as a treatment for postpolio syndrome.

Patients with herpangina should consume soft bland foods and fluids and avoid pain-inducing salty foods and citrus fruits.



Bed rest is required for patients in the early stages of paralytic polio. Physical therapy should begin as soon as possible after the resolution of pain. Isometric exercises for select muscle groups can help increase muscle strength. Muscle capacity can also be increased with bracing and orthotics.