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An Enteric Cytopathic Human Orphan virus or ECHOvirus is a type of RNA-virus (a similar structure to the common cold). The virus enters the body through the digestive tract, replicates in the intestines, and then spreads to the rest of the body. Transmission is usually through exposure to infected fecal material.
In children and adults, the virus usually runs its course after causing mild neurological symptoms. However, in young infants, the disease is often fatal as the virus attacks either the heart or the liver, quickly overwhelming them. Moreover, infants are less likely to have developed antibodies to the virus, and in an epidemic are much more likely to be infected.
The disease is very difficult to treat. Pleconaril, an anti-viral drug, is only moderately effective and is no longer developed to treat the virus. The best alternative treatment is to treat the symptoms and provide support to the patient until the disease runs its course.
Good hygiene is the best defence to the disease as soap and water kills the virus. The disease thrives in crowded conditions. Moreover, although fecal-oral is the most common means of infection, it is known to spread merely through saliva-oral infection, or even to travel from patient to patient on the hands of medical personnel in hospitals.