Prolific serial killers get lots of publicity and usually end up getting caught – it's the ones that fly under the radar that you should really worry about. Polio was one of the brash ones, causing such a public health impact that international efforts have stamped it out in all but three countries. However, a number of its cousins have escaped widespread attention and continue to spread death and misery around the globe. Numerous outbreaks of hand foot and mouth disease caused by closely-related Enterovirus 71 (computer-generated model pictured) have been reported over the last few years, accompanied by symptoms ranging from rashes and fevers to paralysis and death. But scientists have begun to tackle the problem. Introducing the immature virus in mice can provoke an immune response that makes the full-blown version toothless. If this technique works for humans, another of this nasty family could itself be at death's door.
Written by Jan Piotrowski
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