Of­fi­cials: Virus makes breath­ing hard for 39 kids

Rare cases of virus can re­sem­ble po­lio, harm spinal cord

Albany Times Union - - AROUND THE REGION - By Bethany Bump ▶ bbump@time­sunion.com ■ 518-454-5387

New York health of­fi­cials are re­port­ing that 39 chil­dren statewide, in­clud­ing some in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion, have con­firmed cases of an air­borne virus that can cause po­lio-like symp­toms and se­vere res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness.

The en­terovirus, EVD68, most com­monly causes mild symp­toms among those in­fected, in­clud­ing runny nose, sneez­ing, cough, body and mus­cle aches. But for some, es­pe­cially those with asthma or a his­tory of wheez­ing, it can cause se­vere symp­toms such as wheez­ing and dif­fi­culty breath­ing.

In some rare in­stances, state of­fi­cials say, the virus can cause acute flac­cid myeli­tis (AFM) — a se­ri­ous con­di­tion that can cause rapid and acute weak­ness in the arms or legs, as well as spinal cord dam­age. So far in 2018, no cases of AFM have been con­firmed in New York, the state health depart­ment said Fri­day.

In gen­eral, in­fants, chil­dren and teenagers are most likely to get in­fected with EV-D68 and be­come ill be­cause they do not yet have im­mu­nity from pre­vi­ous ex­po­sures to en­teroviruses, of­fi­cials say. Chil­dren with asthma may have a higher risk for se­vere res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness. Adults can get in­fected with en­teroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symp­toms or mild symp­toms.

“All par­ents must take sim­ple steps to pro­tect their chil­dren, es­pe­cially those who are im­munecom­pro­mised or have res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, to avoid be­com­ing in­fected,” said state Health Com­mis­sioner Howard Zucker. “We will con­tinue to work with our part­ners at the CDC and lo­cal health de­part­ments to make sure that all New York fam­i­lies

In gen­eral, in­fants, chil­dren and teenagers are most likely to get in­fected with EV-D68 and be­come ill be­cause they do not yet have im­mu­nity from pre­vi­ous ex­po­sures to en­teroviruses, of­fi­cials say.

have the in­for­ma­tion they need to pre­vent their chil­dren and oth­ers from get­ting the virus.”

The cases that have been con­firmed so far were re­ported in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion, Western and Cen­tral New York, and Long Is­land, state health of­fi­cials said. Spec­i­mens have been re­ceived from other re­gions, as well, for spe­cial­ized test­ing at state’s Wadsworth Lab­o­ra­tory — which is the only lab­o­ra­tory in the state that can con­firm EV-D68.

Re­sults are be­ing shared with the fed­eral Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion in or­der to mon­i­tor the cir­cu­la­tion of the virus na­tion­ally.

Small num­bers of the en­terovirus have been re­ported reg­u­larly in the U.S. since 1987, with peo­ple more likely to be­come in­fected in the sum­mer and fall. Be­cause a mix of en­teroviruses cir­cu­lates ev­ery year, dif­fer­ent types of en­teroviruses can be com­mon in dif­fer­ent years.

In sum­mer and fall 2014, how­ever, New York and other states wit­nessed the first doc­u­mented na­tion­wide out­break of EV-D68. From mi­dau­gust 2014 to Jan­uary 15, 2015, the CDC or state pub­lic health lab­o­ra­to­ries con­firmed a to­tal of 1,153 peo­ple in 49 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia with res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness caused by EV-D68.

Al­most all of the con­firmed cases were among chil­dren. Ad­di­tion­ally, there were likely many thou­sands of mild EVD68 in­fec­tions for which peo­ple did not seek med­i­cal treat­ment and/or get tested.

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