Another Virus to Worry About
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Doctors began to notice a new polio-like illness in kids back in two thousand fourteen but weren’t sure what caused it. They named it acute flaccid paralysis or AFP which causes weakness and spinal cord problems. They now believe a virus might be responsible: the enterovirus EV-D-sixty eight.

Enteroviruses are spread through saliva, mucous and feces and while most people don’t get sick, in rare case, they cause serious illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis, pericarditis and possibly AFP. This virus was first identified in California sixty years ago and only a few cases showed up each year.

But in two thousand fourteen, there was an outbreak of EV-D-sixty-eight and since then, there have been spikes of infections. Almost all infected were children who had a history of asthma or wheezing but doctors still don’t know if the virus caused AFP.

Even though in mouse studies, the virus causes paralysis, it’s been hard to nail down the connection because once patients advance from respiratory symptoms to spinal cord complications, the virus is no longer detected. Scientists are now using sensitive molecular testing to see if they can detect the presence of the virus’s genetic information in AFP children. AFP alters the grey matter of the spinal cord which weakens muscles and reflexes.

These children suddenly become weak in an arm or leg, have trouble moving their eyes or swallowing, and have facial drooping and slurred speech. There are no treatments for AFP, so the best advice is to prevent the infection. Children should wash their hands with soap and water often and parents should keep sick kids home.

For more information…

What we know about the polio-like illness paralyzing children—and what we don't
In 2014, doctors in Colorado and California started to notice cases of a polio-like illness, which caused limb weakness and spinal cord abnormalities. Public health researchers called it acute flaccid myelitis, which they believe a virus to be the root cause. For the past five years, they've been working to identify the specific viral pathogen responsible, how it works, and why some kids develop symptoms of paralysis while others do not. That type of scientific detective work helps them develop treatments and stop the spread of an illness—and answering all those question is key for a robust public health response...

Non-Polio Enterovirus
ANon-polio enteroviruses cause about 10 to 15 million infections and tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year in the United States. Most people who get infected with these viruses do not get sick or they only have mild illness, like the common cold. But some people can have serious complications, especially infants and people with weakened immune systems...

Enteroviruses
Infections with enteroviruses are common in the United States during summer and fall. During that time in 2014, the United States experienced a nationwide outbreak of EV-D68 associated with severe respiratory illness. A total of 1,153 cases were confirmed in 49 states and the District of Columbia...