The other virus

November 1, 2014

With media attention vectored on healthcare professionals who treated Ebola virus victims, coverage of enterovirus D68 has virtually gone dark.

 

With media attention vectored on healthcare professionals who treated Ebola virus victims, coverage of enterovirus D68 has virtually gone dark. Some experts theorize that EV-D68 may be linked to the mysterious incidences of paralysis that have struck more than 50 US children, according to the CDC. As of October 29, the CDC had verified reports of 64 cases in 28 states and was verifying about half a dozen additional reports.

According to the agency, episodes of the illness, characterized by focal limb weakness and abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on MRI, have occurred since August 1, 2014, coincident with an increase of respiratory illnesses among children.

However, linkage of the virus to the paralysis falls short of causal. In the 10 cases reported at Children’s Hospital Colorado, only 5 tested positive for EV-D68. None of the 5 children treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for limb weakness and spinal lesions characteristic of the condition tested positive for it. The CHOP’s neurology head theorizes that either the tests are insufficiently sensitive to detect the virus or that the children’s bodies had already eradicated the virus by the time specimens were tested.