The return of students to school, where face masks are discouraged, has increased the spread of infectious diseases. As well as COVID-19, other common pediatric disorders continue to be a burden on families. Increased numbers of children hospitalized with a respiratory disease known as enterovirus D68 prompted an urgent alert from the CDC on September 9, 2022

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In most cases, EV-D68 is a short-lived respiratory disease that can be treated with bed rest and patience. Extremely significant neurological problems may occur rarely. 4 Although this may cause concern among parents and caregivers, the CDC issued a health notice to make medical professionals aware of the virus’s spread. In that manner, clinicians can screen for the more severe symptoms of EV-D68 among people experiencing respiratory distress.

The Origin of Enterovirus D68

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More than a hundred different enteroviruses have been identified, including EV-D68. Although an enterovirus causes polio, EV-D68 does not. Another form of enterovirus that has some name recognition is called Coxsackie. Infections with the enterovirus are most common during July and October. Multiple enteroviruses, according to the CDC, cycle through the population annually. Some years may have a higher prevalence of a certain kind.

Extremely widespread and typically causing only minor sickness, EV-D68 is a well-studied and important pathogen.

Enterovirus D68 Symptoms

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Symptoms of EV-D68 infection are typically mild and similar to the flu. Your child may be showing signs of illness, such as a sore throat, fever, cough, and/or a runny or stuffy nose.

Breathing problems and wheezing are among the more serious symptoms. Children with asthma may be especially susceptible to these life-threatening symptoms. It’s easy to miss the signs that your child has EV-D68 because they are similar to those of the common cold or flu. No symptoms at all may be present in your child. On the other hand, under really unusual circumstances, signs and symptoms may be more severe.

Can Enterovirus D68 Paralyze People?

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Acute flaccid myelitis is a severe complication associated with EV-D68 (AFM). Muscle weakness in the limbs is a hallmark of AFM, a neurological disorder. The symptoms of AFM can be similar to those of polio, although the two diseases are very different. Lesions in the spinal cord’s grey matter and limb weakness are two examples of these shared characteristics.

The occurrence of this problem is quite unlikely, but it is very dangerous when it does. Slurred speech, trouble swallowing, weakness in one or both arms, pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs, and trouble moving the eyes, eyelids, or other facial muscles are all warning signs that parents should keep a watch out for.

If a kid displays any of these signs, immediate medical assistance is required.

In children, why are there so many new cases of enterovirus D68?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the number of EV-D68 cases increased during July and August of 2022 compared to the same months of 2019, 2020, and 2021. AFM cases had not been reported to the CDC as of August 30. However, EV-D68 is said to precede AFM, so parents of a sick child should remain vigilant.

It’s not unprecedented for epidemics to spring out. For instance, in 2014, there was a widespread outbreak in the United States, with nearly 1,400 cases reported across 49 states. This year’s increased attendance seems to have no obvious cause.

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It’s possible that the increased prevalence of EV-D68 among youngsters is related to the increased social interaction they experience at school. Masks were also more common in the prior two academic years. There’s also a higher risk that kids won’t wash their hands after touching their faces, including their lips and noses.

Enterovirus D68 Antiviral Medication

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When treating a viral infection, doctors typically treat the patient’s symptoms while letting the immune system do its job and eliminate the virus. During the recovery, it is essential that the youngster get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of fluids. Asthma medications may be necessary for kids who are wheezing or having trouble breathing. Acute flaccid myelitis in children is a condition that may benefit from physical therapy.

How can I protect my child from contracting enterovirus D68?

Preventing EV-D68 requires measures similar to those used to stop the spread of other viruses. Make sure to often wash your hands and refrain from touching your face, particularly your mouth and eyes. Never share food or drink, and always cough or sneeze into a tissue.

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Keeping surfaces like doorknobs and countertops clean regularly is also helpful because EV-D68 can be spread through direct contact. Fortunately, many of the lessons we have learned during this COVID-19 pandemic are applicable to the prevention of any and all viruses, including EV D68.

Although the CDC’s health warning regarding enterovirus D68 is alarming, the virus seldom causes life-threatening illnesses in children. There are respiratory manifestations of EV-D68. More severe symptoms in children with asthma are possible, and EV-D68 has been linked to AFM in extremely rare circumstances.

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The symptoms of EV-D68 should prompt a visit to the clinician for children with asthma. If you notice symptoms of AFM, such as a drooping face, slurred speech, or discomfort in the limbs, neck, or back, you should seek immediate medical attention.

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