A respiratory virus has sickened thousands of children across the US, and is rapidly spreading across the country. The CDC has analyzed samples, and found 40 incidences of enterovirus 68 (or D68) in Kansas City and Chicago. This infection may be life-threatening.
In addition to the states listed on the map, this illness has been reported in Michigan, New York, Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama as of today.
Enterovirus 68 has aspects similar to rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, and it spreads like the common cold, that is, from contaminated surfaces, person-to-person contact, and aerosols from sneezing.
Last February, it was reported that five cases of a polio-like illness had been observed in California children since late 2012. These patients also had severe respiratory symptoms.
Over the past 18 months, physicians in California have observed on rare occasions what may be a new disease, one in which patients, usually children, quickly and permanently lose muscle function in an arm or leg.
In some cases, patients have had infectious respiratory symptoms before the paralysis begins. The illness shares some features with polio, but it is not the same disease.
The cause of the disease is still unknown, but a strong possibility is that it is caused by a virus known as enterovirus-68, which was detected in two of five cases that Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD, of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, and Keith Van Haren, MD, of Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, will present in detail at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this spring.
An audio presentation by these neurologists can be found at this link. At 5:25 Dr. Van Haren states his belief that the polio-like paralysis was caused by enterovirus 68.