CDC: Virus that Paralyzes Kids Could Return in Fall

  • CDC: Virus that Paralyzes Kids Could Return in Fall

CDC: Virus that Paralyzes Kids Could Return in Fall

It is suspected that an enteroviruse - EV-D68 - is likely responsible for the increase in cases that have been recurring every two years since 2014, according to the CDC. A CDC study of cases from 2018 found that more than 90% of patients who got AFM first had fever and cold symptoms about 6 days before they began to have a headache, muscle weakness, and perhaps pain in an affected arm or leg. Recent respiratory illness or fever and the presence of neck or back pain or any neurologic symptom should heighten their concern.

Pediatricians and frontline providers in emergency departments and urgent care centers should be prepared to quickly recognize symptoms of AFM and immediately hospitalize patients.

He added not knowing the risk factors meant they cannot tell parents any specific thing they can do to protect their kids from AFM.

While many children will recover to their usual state of health after AFM, unfortunately, many kids will have permanent disability. Other laboratory tests and an MRI of the brain and spinal cord can distinguish AFM from other conditions with limb weakness.

"Recognition and early diagnosis are critical", Robert Redfield, M.D., CDC Director, said. "CDC and public health partners have strengthened early disease detection systems, a vital step toward rapid treatment and rehabilitation for children with AFM". However, the CDC underscored the importance of seeking medical care if kids show AFM symptoms, even at a time when parents may be anxious about going to health facilities due to coronavirus infection fears. The CDC says adding, "Multiple viruses, including West Nile virus, adenovirus, and non-polio enteroviruses, are known to cause AFM in a small percentage of infected persons".

The report said mitigation measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus could affect the potential AFM outbreak, though it is unclear. But vigilance remains essential, especially since many patient-doctor interactions are occurring via telemedicine, said Thomas Clark, deputy director of the agency's division of viral diseases.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, the impact of that on AFM is unknown. "However, clinicians should not delay hospitalizing patients when they suspect AFM".

The CDC has, since the 2018 outbreak, been able to better recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition and respond faster, Redfield said.

Though AFM remains uncommon, it spikes in even-numbered years, with 238 cases identified in 2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Timing is critical: while parents of patients seek medical attention within a single day of the onset of symptoms 76% of the time, that leaves many who wait long enough for the child's condition to worsen. It's hoped that social distancing measures put in place to combat Covid-19 could also combat the spread of enteroviruses and result in fewer cases of AFM, though it may also make it more hard for the health care system to diagnose and treat the condition. In most cases, there is a preceding episode of fever, respiratory tract infection for a few days.