On July 21, 2022, the first verified case of polio in the United States in a decade was discovered in New York. According to health officials, the virus was found in Rockland County and was transmitted by someone who had gotten the oral polio vaccine. Since that incident, parents now more than ever need to understand why giving their child the polio vaccination is still very important.
Since the United States has not used the oral form of the vaccine in almost 20 years, experts suspect the virus may have originated abroad. National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is celebrated every August, thus, the resurgence of the polio virus is particularly timely.
An annual event, NIAM highlights the need for vaccinations across the lifespan. Despite of the lack of treatment, the polio vaccine has been shown to be 99% effective.
The polio vaccine is recommended for all children and adolescents and is given in three separate doses by the CDC. Everyone who has not been vaccinated against polio yet is being strongly encouraged to do so by the authorities.
What Exactly Is Polio?
Many persons who get the poliovirus do not show any symptoms, despite the fact that the disease can have devastating effects on the neurological system and cause muscle paralysis.
Even though it has been prevalent since the 1800s, the disease really started to spread in the 1940s. Many thousands of people were rendered unable to work every year, and summer was often the peak season for illnesses.
Eighty percent of a group of 100 children who all contracted polio would show no signs of illness. The remaining 20%, on the other hand, would show signs of what the average person would identify as a viral disease, including fever, general malaise, and perhaps diarrhea.
Paralytic polio, which causes paralysis, commonly in the legs, would affect a significantly fewer percentage of affected people. When the paralysis of the polio virus affects the muscles used for breathing, the result can be lethal. The last recorded instance of spontaneous infection in the United States was in 1979, mostly due to the polio vaccine.
What Repercussions Does Polio Have on Kids?
Although polio’s effects are the same in both children and adults, the virus is more easily disseminated from child to child due to the fact that it is transmitted through feces. Young people are often stereotyped as being unclean since they lack the life experience to know otherwise.
A youngster can transfer the virus via the feculent-oral route if they already have it and they go to the restroom without washing their hands. This means that the virus can be spread through feces, with the recipient being infected when they put contaminated hands to their mouth.
It is less typical for polio to be transferred by a person’s respiratory secretions, such as a sneeze or cough.
When Is It Safe to Vaccinate Kids Against Polio?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 93% of Americans older than two have received all recommended doses of the polio vaccine.
The first dose of the polio vaccine is typically given to children at two months of age, the second at four months, and the third at six to fourteen months. At the age of four or six, when most kids begin elementary school, is when you should give them their fourth dose. Attendance at public schools in all 50 states and DC is contingent upon proof of immunization, including against polio.
Mild side effects, including injection site soreness, are associated with immunization. Very few people are allergic to any of the substances. The vaccination is an impressive means of defense due to its near-complete efficacy and little adverse effects.
It’s clear that the frequency with which people get their recommended vaccinations has decreased. And it’s not because people are more reluctant to get immunizations, in my opinion. As a result of the epidemic, I think people are increasingly reluctant to go to large gatherings, and they are also delaying preventative health measures like getting their kids vaccinated.
The recent polio case in New York highlights the significance of vaccination. Two counties in New York’s wastewater have tested positive for polio, indicating that the virus has likely been circulating for months.
Those who have received the vaccine can rest easy despite the recent outbreak; they will be protected for the rest of their lives. One case may not seem like much, but it could signal a far bigger problem for people without the vaccine.
Although the recent polio case in New York is cause for concern, specialists assure us that those who have been immunized need not worry. Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s pediatrician or other healthcare practitioners any questions you may have about your child’s immunization history.
CDC Issues Alerts About A Virus That Can Give Children Polio-Like Symptoms
The CDC has issued an alert about a virus that can give kids polio-like symptoms. 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, a virus that can give kids Polio-like symptoms prompted an urgent alert from the CDC on September 9, 2022
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
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.
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?
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.