Forty-three out of our 50 states are reporting cases of children suffering symptoms consistent with being infected by a human enterovirus, in this case virus D68, one of a broad range of common viruses. Polio was the most devastatingly disabling of the enterovirus family. But it was all but eradicated decades ago. The common cold is another.
11-year-old Bryan Sotello, of Allen, Texas is suspected of having EV-D68, but additionally, he is exhibiting paralysis on his right side. This has put parents everywhere on alert as they wonder if polio is re surging, and will it become an epidemic?
Should you worry about the spread of enterovirus D68? See the article “6 Questions Parents Ask about EV-D68 Answered”.
Dallas News reports about Sotello’s illness:
The first case in Texas of a child possibly suffering paralysis from an increasingly common virus was reported Thursday by Children’s Health in Dallas.
Enterovirus D68 is far easier to catch than Ebola, with confirmed cases in 43 states and in Canada. The vast majority who get infected don’t get very sick, but hundreds of cases this year have become severe. And a few of the worst cases are associated with paralysis, though experts caution they can’t say if one caused the other.
Bryan Sotello, 11, of Allen had come to Children’s in late July suffering from a respiratory infection. After being treated and sent home, his symptoms got worse. Over a couple of days, he lost the use of his right arm and returned to the hospital.
Dr. Ben Greenberg, a neurologist at Children’s, said the boy eventually tested positive for an enterovirus, but the hospital is waiting for the national Centers for Disease Control to perform the genetic tests needed to determine if it’s D68.
“Statistically, I bet it is,” said Dr. Greenberg.
On Thursday, the hospital notified the CDC and sent an email notifying key health care staff members about the case. That was also the time when Bryan’s condition had improved enough that his family and doctors were comfortable making it public, said Children’s spokesman Randy Sachs.
According to Sachs, the boy got sick after the end of the last school year and has not returned to school. Any friends he had contact with over the summer would have shown symptoms by now if they’d been infected.
Bryan shows no evidence of harboring the virus and is no longer infectious, Sachs said. In a few days, he’ll be transferred to a rehabilitation facility.
Enteroviruses are a broad family of more than 100 viruses that mostly coexist with people. Several are associated with illness and a couple with paralysis. Polio is the most notorious. And a few years ago, an enterovirus called EV71 produced cases of illness and paralysis in South America and Australia.
In most cases, these viruses cause mild or no symptoms. But this year, the number of children showing up at hospitals in some cities with D68 jumped dramatically. In about two dozen cases reported in the United States and Canada, the patients developed polio-like symptoms. A smaller cluster of polio-like cases were identified in California from August 2012 to July 2013.
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