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Type 1 diabetes linked strongly to common enterovirus

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Type 1 Diabetes

New evidence links type 1 diabetes to a cold related and common virus.The cause of type 1 or juvenile diabetes has been poorly understood, but long believed to be an autoimmune disorder. New evidence strongly links the disease to enterovirus infection that is extremely common.

Past studies link virus and autoimmunity to diabetes

Past research has linked enterovirus to type 1 diabetes, but strong evidence has been lacking. The increased rates of diabetes among children prompted a new study from Australian researchers who reviewed 24 studies and two abstracts involving 4,448 participants.

In a phase I clinical trial, BCG vaccine was found to reverse diabetes by boosting TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in the bloodstream. TNF has been found to suppress autoimmunity and diabetes in mice, leading to the study for development of the vaccine for diabetes and supporting the current findings.

A UK study, published March, 2009 also found enterovirus was present in the pancreas of 60 percent of children who died from type 1 diabetes. Forty percent of adults with type 2 diabetes studied also had the viral DNA on examination of pancreatic tissue in the former study.

The findings showed children with enterovirus were 10 times more likely to have type 1 diabetes compared to non-diabetics. The enterovirus consists of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. Though the virus is common, many infected individuals have no symptoms, according to information from the CDC.

RNA from enterovirus found in children with type 1 diabetes

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There are 60 types of the cold related viruses that can cause infection. Manifestations include mild respiratory and flu like symptoms, primarily in children. Enterovirus can also cause rash and less commonly meningitis. Infections are more prevalent in summer and fall months.

RNA from enterovirus can be detected in stool, tissue and blood samples. For the current study, researchers had measured RNA levels and compared the results to non-diabetics, finding the strong observational association between enterovirus and type 1 diabetes.

The findings also showed children with pre-diabetes were three times more likely to have the enterovirus compared to other children.

The researchers say the findings are observational and should be confirmed in larger studies. "Larger prospective studies are needed to establish a clear temporal relation between enterovirus infection and the development of autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes", they conclude.

The findings do support a clear link between diabetes and the common enterovirus that produces mild symptoms of respiratory illness and flu like symptoms primarily among children and noted in a commentary accompanying the study from Professor Didier Hober and Famara Sane from the University of Lille in France.

The new study strongly supports there is a link between the common cold related enterovirus and type 1 diabetes that has also been found in past studies. Ongoing research is recommended to establish how the virus might lead to autoimmune dysfunction and diabetes.

Image source: Wikipedia

Updated January 18, 2014



Thanks for this story. Our 25 year old son/Type 1 since age 6 suffered a severe case of chicken pox and often wondered the linkage between the two. I will follow this story closely. Thanks for your ongoing studies.
Thank you for sharing this. Type 1 diabetes cause has been a mystery and I so hope the root cause will be discovered.
My son was diagnosed about 6 weeks after getting the h1n1 live virus vaccination and I always believed that is what brought on his type 1
My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 8, and she too had chicken pox about 6 months before being diagnosed. I have heard from others that the two could be linked, and I now believe it more so.
I am 30 and was diagnosed at 3. My mum said that I had a very severe case of Chicken Pox when I was 2 (where my twin brother only got a few spots). I was hospitalised. Exactly 1 year later I was diagnosed with T1. My twin brother does not have it. I also have a friend who was diagnosed after being hospitalised with the flu. This has always been my theory.
My 12 year old son was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 6 weeks after having chickenpox at age 4, however his twin sister also had chickenpox but does not have diabetes
Wow!! I have always wondered about that too!! My daughter contracted chicken pox from her younger brothers and had a very severe case! Not long after she began exhibiting systems of diabetes and was diagnosed with type 1 !
WOW!! I was 36 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, not a child, but the doctors have said that I got it from a virus like the cold or flu. No other doctor in my area has believed that. They can't figure out how I got it. No one in my family has Type 1 or Type 2 so this answers my concerns. Thanks I look forward to reading more about this.
Hi I am 38 i was diagnosed with T1 back in may of 2013. I allways wounder how i got it at a older age. Ii was not sick as a kid or as adult I was always healthy. But now i can not get any answer from my Dr or anyone else.
I was also diagnosed type 1 at age 36 and only known diabetic in my family. My doctors and I speculate it was caused by my past addiction to meth and sleep deprivation due to my habit. This story was very enlightening for me thank you so much. I look forward to further articles on this topic and maybe one day saying I used to be diabetic.
Thank you for this information! My husband was diagnosed with type 1 about 14 yrs ago at the age of 28. He had no history and was really never sick. He caught a very bad cold that had him down for a couple weeks, about 3 months later was diagnosed with diabetes. Over those 3 months we noticed the changes in health but didn't know what it could be. He lost about 40 lbs durning this this time. I kept telling the doctors it had to be because of the cold he had and they just dismissed me. This article just helps to ease my mind and that I wasn't crazy!!!
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 28 years old. No one else in my family has type 1 diabetes. About 6 months before I was diagnosed I broke out in a rash only on the mid section of my body. My doctor could not explain what the rash was, or where it came from. They only said they thought it was a virus. When they diagnosed my diabetes, they said maybe it was caused my a virus. I always wondered if that mysterious rash was linked to my diabetes. Now after reading this article, I believe now more than ever the two are linked. As for me now, I manage my sugar very well with an insulin pump, but I still pray everyday for a cure.
I think this new information is remarkable and very well could lead to a cure to a horrendous disease. I wish you the best of luck and to all who suffer from this. I hope they figure out that this is also the cause of Type2 Diabetes. It is seeming likely that they both may be related to viral infections.
Hope they figure it all out.
My grandaughter was in ICU for a couple of days with an infection from a vrus. Almost one year later she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I heard other parents say their child had a vrus months before the were diagnosed. I have always thought maybe it had come from that.
I was always sick with viruses when i was younger from colds, the flu, strep, ear infections you name it. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when i was 21 and almost died from it (going two years undiagnosed). My younger sister has it as does my mother and my paternal grandfather. My youngest niece is sick quite often and because of patterns in the family we are concerned she will become diabetic.
Thank you all for sharing these stories. They are so valuable!
I don't remember my daughter being sick except she had the croup (bark like cough) two times when she was 2 and 4 and was diagnose at age 5 with type 1...and hasn't been sick since she was diagnose.
My daughter had a strep virus when they diagnosed her a month ago they had told me the strep is what brought forth the type 1 diabetes.....
streptococcus or "strep" throat and infection are bacterial infections- not viruses. it seems like they are specifically saying that possibly viral infection brings this on but its very possible that your daughter also had an accompanying viral infection at the same time- we had similar experience- got sick, just a cold in kinder and a month later- type 1....:(
My daughter was also diagnosed (at age 7), after having been sick with strep throat. I realize this is a bacterial infection however she may have had something viral along with the strep. I truly believe this was the cause of her type 1 as we do not have any genetic components in our family that we are aware of.
I took my son for his 3 year check up and was concerned because he was sick and not acting like himself. The doctor wanted to make sure it wasn't anything serious and did blood work. Well the results came back and he had a elevated white blood count but nothing else was off enough to warrant more tests. We went back a month later to recheck and they were back to normal. Well ever year since on his yearly check up the same thing would happen and we would recheck and sometimes it took 2 more tests before the would come back normal. On Nov. 12, 2012 symptoms I recognized because by brother who is 40 (diagnosed at 7) has it, I decided I couldn't let them go on any longer so I tested his sugars. They were 440 so we went to Children's and they confirmed it. I always thought that his odd white blood count meant something but didn't know what.
An elevated white count was the reason I was referred to a hematologist. After tons of tests, he could provide no reason. In six months, my white count was back to normal. A few months later, after a period of horrific stress completely unrelated to my health, I was diagnosed at 61 with T2. No one else in my family has ever been diagnosed or told they are pre-diabetic. Hoping research finds a cure soon...especially for children...to this life altering disease.
My son had mono for almost a year (both viral & bacterial) along with an absess on his tonsils. Once the mono cleared, he had to have a tonsilectomy. Eight months later, he was diagnosed with Type 1. I have always felt the Type 1 was a result of the mono.
My daughter complained of a sore throat while we were away on vacation last summer. She had what appeared to be an abscess on her tonsils. Several weeks later she was diagnosed with diabetes. I have always wondered if the strep bacteria is to blame….
Our son was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 at the age of 6 years...and had all the classic symptoms of a flu type bug in the fall. We had all gotten sick with it, but he never overcame it and was within 6 weeks diagnosed with his diabetes. I have as a mother always felt it was the virus that attacked his pancreas that had caused the diabetes. Keep up the research and let's find a cure for this. I have always believed we would happen upon a cure in his lifetime. He is now 23 years old.
I understand where your coming from. I was diagnosed 10 years ago at the age of 47. Had the usual childhood illnesses but other wise had been healty until the year I was diagnosed. I had the Norwalk in the January and by the beginning of May had been diagnosed as Type 1. To this day, I still believe the Norwalk is the cause of the diabetes. And yes, lets keep up the research and hope one day a cure is found. It's hard enough dealing with this at my age, I can't image how young children having to live with this terrible disorder.
In November (also the fall) my son aged 9 got diagnosed as Type 1 too following a virus which produced symptoms of high fever, flu and vomiting. Interestingly, a week ago (6 months later) he got exactly the same symptoms (possibly the same virus?) but what is really interesting is that since he got through the virus and is better, his insulin levels have almost returned to normal and he is having hardly any insulin (1 unit at night only, nothing during the day and sugars are still low). I realise it could be due to the honeymoon period, but am curious to know if the reappearance of the virus had anything to do with it, as the sugars plummeted markedly following the illness. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
My T1d was diagnosed at 22. Right after I had a bout with a piloneidal cyst on my tailbone. I have always thought that the infected was my trigger.
My daughter was diagnosed with diabetes on December 1, 2008 at the age of 16. Less than a month before her diagnosis she had a horrendous cold that kept her home from school for a week. She had a hard time bouncing back from the cold. Once she seemed to recover from the cold her diabetic symptoms appeared. Her doctor, that diagnosed her, as well as doctor's in the pediatric unit where she was an inpatient told us that the cold most likely was what triggered her diabetes.