Over the course of late summer and early fall, enterovirus 68 – a respiratory virus – spread throughout the country, reaching 45 states. Coincident with enterovirus 68 were mysterious cases of paralysis in children; yet, it’s still up in the air whether this virus is the source. In 23 states, more than 50 children experienced an unusual limb weakness and either partial or full paralysis. Not only is the cause unclear but the permanency of this paralysis is also still unknown – and the CDC is tracking these cases closely to better understand the clinical progression. So far, these incidents of paralysis were only identified among children. In late September, an entire family came down with enterovirus 68 respiratory illness, but only their 4-year-old son experienced paralysis. Perhaps children are at a greater predisposition for advanced stage disease. For now, we must remain vigilant about collecting epidemiological data and find ways to manage these polio-like symptoms.
- Emma Rastatter