This week there’s been some news about kids in Colorado hospitalized with neurologic illness. At this time, 10 of the kids have been hospitalized with weakness in their limbs, but no cause has been identified. The neurologic illness could be caused by enteroviorus D68 (4 of the kids have tested positive), but we don’t yet know for sure. Earlier this year, a handful of kids in California developed a polio-like syndrome that caused paralysis in one or more limbs. In that case, enterovirus D68 was thought to be the cause (a couple of kids tested positive), but was never confirmed.
For the most part, enterovirus D68 causes cold-like illness. In some cases, it can cause more severe symptoms like wheezing and difficulty breathing, particularly in children with asthma. Enteroviruses have also been shown to cause neurologic disease in children, although this is rare. From mid-August to October 1st, 500 cases of enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in 42 states, but neurologic illness has only been identified in Colorado. No cases have been confirmed in Arizona.
As always, simple things like hand washing, staying away from sick people, and cleaning high touch surfaces are most effective to prevent enterovirus. Sick kids should also stay home from school so they don’t infect their classmates.