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US Sees Increase in Respiratory Infections That Can Cause Paralysis in Children

October 5, 2022 by TWN Staff
(Photo by Torsten Dederichs via UnSplash)

ATLANTA — Doctors should be on the lookout for a possible increase in enterovirus D68, a respiratory infection that may be linked to more cases of the rare, paralyzing condition acute flaccid myelitis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week.

The CDC has detected increases in enterovirus D68 every two years or so, and saw its latest spike in infections this past summer.

Enterovirus D68 causes symptoms that mirror those of common colds, with cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and sometimes fever. It requires doctors to take extra steps to diagnose. The virus tends to peak in the late summer and early fall.

“Health care facilities should be prepared for possible increases in pediatric health care use associated with severe EV-D68-associated respiratory illness,” the CDC said Tuesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Past increases in EV-D68 circulation were also associated with increased reports of AFM.”

In addition to testing for AFM, health care providers are urged to test for poliovirus in people suspected of having AFM because of the similarity in symptoms.

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