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Enteroviruses (EVs) species A are a major public health issue in the Asia-Pacific region and cause frequent epidemics of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in China. Mild infections are common in children; however, HFMD can also cause severe illness that affects the central nervous system. To molecularly characterize EVs, a prospective HFMD virological surveillance program was performed in China between 2013 and 2016. Throat swabs, rectal swabs and stool samples were collected from suspected HFMD patients at participating hospitals. EVs were detected using generic real-time and nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCRs). Then, the complete VP1 regions of enterovirus A71 (EV-A71), coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) and CVA6 were sequenced to analyze amino acid changes and construct a viral molecular phylogeny. Of the 2836 enrolled HFMD patients, 2,517 (89%) were EV positive. The most frequently detected EVs were CVA16 (32.5%, 819), CVA6 (31.2%, 785), and EV-A71 (20.4%, 514). The subgenogroups CVA16_B1b, CVA6_D3a and EV-A71_C4a were predominant in China and recombination was not observed in the VP1 region. Sequence analysis revealed amino acid variations at the 30, 29 and 44 positions in the VP1 region of EV-A71, CVA16 and CVA6 (compared to the respective prototype strains BrCr, G10 and Gdula), respectively. Furthermore, in 21 of 24 (87.5%) identified EV-A71 samples, a known amino acid substitution (D31N) that may enhance neurovirulence was detected. Our study provides insights about the genetic characteristics of common HFMD-associated EVs. However, the emergence and virulence of the described mutations require further investigation.

Original publication




Journal article


Virologica Sinica

Publication Date



School of Public Health, Fudan University, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of Education, Shanghai, 200032, China.