Pointers at Glance
- The CDC has issued a health alert for healthcare providers over the rising respiratory illnesses in children.
- One of these viruses, enterovirus-D68, has been associated with acute flaccid myelitis or AFM. AFM can cause symptoms of paralysis in children.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health alert for clinicians regarding common respiratory illnesses, including one that can cause an uncommon type of paralysis in children called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM.)
There was an increase in cases of rhinovirus and enterovirus in July and August. Both viruses cause common upper respiratory infections in children. This rise in cases comes after the last wave of these viruses in the summer and fall of 2018, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rhinovirus is commonly associated with upper respiratory infections. Although this virus spreads year-round, there are peaks in the spring and fall each year. Enterovirus can have very similar symptoms to rhinovirus but can also lead to rash, fever, and neurologic illness. A type of enterovirus known as enterovirus D-68 has, in rare cases, led to AFM.
Assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Neurology at the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and Children’s of Alabama, Dr. Lydia Marcus, explained that enterovirus-D68 is one of many non-polio enteroviruses and causes respiratory & occasional gastrointestinal symptoms.
He also said that symptoms are usually mild but sometimes more severe and can include difficulty breathing, congestion, coughing, body aches, diarrhea, fever, or vomiting. Although enterovirus is found year-round, it peaks in late summer and early fall.
Many children with these viruses will only have common cold symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, body and muscle aches, and a fever. However, with recent hospitalizations growing with these viruses, clinicians are seeing an increase in cases of acute flaccid myelitis [AFM], which can result in paralysis.