A virus linked to paralysis in children is on the rise
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an official health advisory to alert health care providers and hospitals of an increase in Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) cases in children.
The illness, which often only causes mild cold-like symptoms, can lead to much more severe problems, including difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting and in some children, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).
AFM is a neurological condition that causes paralytic effects such as muscle weakness and/or pain in the arms, legs, neck and back, slurred speech, facial weakness and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms may appear after a child experiences the more common symptoms of EV-D68.
Infectious disease experts project that cases of AFM will increase as the number of enterovirus infections among children rise.
“Of course, this is scary for parents to hear,” says Dr. Emma Olivera, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group. “But it’s important to remember that AFM is rare. But infections, such as enterovirus, are not, which is why it’s important to teach your child proper hygiene to help prevent illness. When they do inevitably get sick, monitor their symptoms and bring them to their pediatrician if they need to be seen.”
Dr. Olivera says if your child is experiencing wheezing, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids or facial droop, seek medical attention immediately.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.