(WXIN) — Doctors in the US have seen an increase in children of a respiratory virus that can cause polio-like muscle weakness.
In most cases, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) causes respiratory disease with mild symptoms. However, it can lead to a condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which can cause inflammation of the spinal cord. Those who suffer from AFM may have difficulty moving their arms, while others experience muscle weakness. In severe cases, this can lead to respiratory failure or life-threatening neurological complications.
According to a warning issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pediatric hospitalizations are increasing among patients with severe respiratory disease who tested positive for rhinovirus (RV) and/or enterovirus (EV). Some patients have also tested positive for EV-D68 – and hospital sites report a higher percentage of EV-D68 patients compared to previous years.
This isn’t the first time the EV-D68 has caused problems. In 2014, an outbreak of enterovirus D68 was reported in multiple states. Nearly 1,400 people were involved in the outbreak, although an undercount is highly likely because many with mild symptoms were not tested.
Increased activity was also reported in 2016 and 2018, with lower circulation in 2020 likely due to COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Between July 2022 and August 2022, the number of EV-D68 cases detected was greater than the period of the three previous years (2019, 2020 and 2021). While the CDC has not seen increased AFM reports, an increase in AFM cases generally follows an increase in EV-D68 cases, the bureau said.
The CDC warning asks providers to consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of respiratory disease in children and warns of a possible increase in the number of cases in the coming weeks. Common symptoms of EV-D68 include coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Fever is present in about half of the known cases.
“In rare cases, EV-D68 can cause AFM,” the CDC noted in its warning. “This rare but serious neurological disorder primarily affects children and usually presents with sudden weakness of the limbs.”
According to the CDC, signs of AFM include:
- arm or leg weakness
- pain in the neck, back, arms or legs
- difficulty swallowing or slurred speech
- difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
- facial droop or weakness
The agency noted that there are no available vaccines or specific treatments.
Babies, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected. Those who suffer from asthma may be at greater risk for severe cases of EV-D68.
The CDC urges the public to follow typical prevention measures:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick and when you are sick
- Cover your coughing and sneezing with a tissue or your upper sleeve, not with your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
- Stay home if you are sick
- Consider wearing a mask around other people if you have respiratory symptoms
- Contact a healthcare provider immediately if you or your child have difficulty breathing or have sudden weakness of the limbs
- Make sure you or your child is following a current asthma action plan if you or your child has asthma
- Stay up to date on all recommended vaccines
#CDC #warns #increase #childhood #respiratory #disease #lead #poliolike #muscle #weakness