The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a warning about the increased spread of a contagious virus that can cause permanent paralysis in children.
The CDC said hospitals and other health professionals told the agency over the past month that “pediatric hospitalizations in patients with severe respiratory disease who also tested positive for rhinovirus (RV) and / or enterovirus (IV )” are increased.
About half of all common colds “are caused by some sort of rhinovirus,” and there are more than 100 types each of rhinoviruses and enteroviruses that can lead to infections, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Most infected people have mild or no symptoms, but some infections can become serious, especially for children or those with compromised immune systems.
“Most people who become infected with non-polio enteroviruses either do not get sick or have only a mild illness, such as the common cold. Symptoms of mild illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, rash, blistering of the mouth, and muscle and muscle aches, “according to the CDC.
The CDC was also told by healthcare professionals that some have also tested positive for enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68. The CDC said the number of children testing positive for RV or EV and EV-D68 this year is higher than in the past.
“The number of detections between July and August 2022 was higher than in the same period in the previous three years,” the agency said.
“Although it primarily causes acute respiratory disease, EV-D68 has been associated with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare but serious neurological complication involving weakness in the limbs,” the CDC said in its warning.
AFM can sometimes lead to permanent paralysis, according to the agency.
The CDC “had not received an increase in AFM case reports with onset in 2022” as of August 30 this year. But the agency also said that “the rise in respiratory disease from EV-D68 has typically preceded cases of AFM, indicating that increased vigilance for AFM in the coming weeks will be essential.”
RVs are usually linked to acute respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Although electric vehicles can also lead to acute respiratory illness, they are linked to other problems, such as febrile rashes, neurological diseases, aseptic meningitis, AFM, and encephalitis.
Respiratory symptoms are similar for those infected with RV and EV-D68.
“Common symptoms among hospitalized children with EV-D68 include coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing,” the CDC said, adding that “fever is reported in about half of known cases.”
“On rare occasions, EV-D68 can cause AFM. This rare but serious neurological condition primarily affects children and typically presents with sudden limb weakness, “the agency added.” There are no vaccines available or specific treatments for RV or IV, including EV-D68, and clinical assistance is supportive “.
RVs and electric vehicles have similarities that make them “indistinguishable from each other” on complex tests used in clinical settings. More detailed measures are needed to differentiate them.
According to the CDC, RVs are always on the move, but they tend to peak in the spring and fall. The peak of the electric vehicle season is late summer and early fall, the same goes for the EV-D68.
There was an outbreak of severe respiratory disease across the country in 2014 caused by EV-D68.
Increased EV-D68 activity was also detected in the fall of 2016 and 2018, as well as in 2020 to a “lesser degree”.
“The relatively lower circulation in 2020 could reflect the use of COVID-19 pandemic infection mitigation measures, which are known to have disrupted the circulation of other respiratory viruses,” the CDC said.
Cases of AFM also increased in the fall of 2014, 2016 and 2018.
The average age of children seeking emergency or hospital care in 2018 for respiratory diseases associated with EV-D68 was three years.
But the CDC notes that “all ages of children and adolescents can be affected.”
“Children with a history of asthma or reactive airway disease may be more likely to seek medical attention, although children with no known history of asthma may also have a serious illness,” the agency said.
Among adults, the CDC said EV-D68 is “less understood” but is “believed to be more commonly detected in patients with underlying conditions.”
The CDC advised the public to wash their hands “often with soap and water for 20 seconds”, to “avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands” and to avoid close contact or sharing of utensils with sick people.
The agency also urged people to cover coughs and sneezes “with a handkerchief or the top of their shirt sleeve, not with their hands”, to clean the surfaces they touch frequently and to stay at home if they are sick.
“Contact a healthcare professional immediately if you or your child have difficulty breathing or have sudden limb weakness,” the CDC said, also urging people to follow the updated asthma action plan and make sure that have all recommended vaccines.