A common virus is causing more children to be hospitalized than in recent years

Jimmy Lee

Enterovirus EV-D68 can cause respiratory disease or even paralysis. “It’s an important disease and something to look out for,” says a pediatrician at New York University.

The respiratory virus that emerges every two years is causing an increase in children’s hospitalizations in some parts of the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said earlier this month that more children and teens tested positive for a type of enterovirus called EV-D68 in July and August of this year than in the same two-month period in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

She also said that hospitals in several regions of the United States notified the agency in August of an increase in the number of pediatric patients who tested positive for rhinovirus or enterovirus.

EV-D68, which is responsible for a higher proportion of illnesses among those who have tested positive for rhinovirus or enterovirus this year, is of particular concern. It causes respiratory symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, but may also lead to a rash or, in rare cases, serious neurological complications.

“Children get respiratory illness from the virus, and then somewhere between two days and two weeks after that they can develop limb weakness and, in more serious cases, limb paralysis,” said Adam Ratner, director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases. at NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. “It’s, in many ways, milder than you get with polio without the same kind of long-term effects, but it’s still an important disease and something to look out for.”

For unknown reasons, the EV-D68 reappears every two years in late summer and early fall. It appeared in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020, although the spread of the virus in 2020 was less as a result of the social distancing and concealment requirements in place in the first year of the pandemic. The CDC said that in years of increased EV-D68 activity, there were also higher cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a neurological condition that causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

“Some respiratory viruses have behaved strangely after COVID,” Ratner said. “We saw a very early peak of a virus called RSV. So it wasn’t 100% clear that D68 would arrive on schedule in late summer/early fall 2022. But that appears to be what is happening.”

Enterovirus and rhinovirus have been around for years and both can cause cold symptoms. Rhinovirus is the number one cause of colds, and it can also exacerbate asthma. Although enteroviruses, which include polioviruses, and rhinoviruses are similar enough to be indistinguishable from one another in tests, according to the CDC, doctors pay close attention to cases of EV-D68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said there has been no increase in acute flaccid myelitis cases this year, but stressed that “increased vigilance toward AFM in the coming weeks will be necessary.”

There are no antiviral treatments or preventive vaccines for EV-D68, but familiar mitigation measures are the best way to prevent infection.

“Washing hands and wearing masks in situations where masks are appropriate and things like that work for that as well,” Ratner said.

– Jimmy Lee

 

(end) Dow Jones Newswires

09-23-22 0726ET

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