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New Health Alert Issued By CDC About Rare Disease That Affects Children

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

A new health alert has been issued by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  to doctors and parents regarding a rare respiratory disease that is affecting children. According to health officials, the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) virus has similar symptoms to influenza or the common cold.

Other health officials are warning that while enteroviruses are prevalent viruses and affect 10 to 15 million Americans annually, the EV-D68 is “less common than other types of enterovirus.”


The CDC reccomends that parents contact their child’s pediatrician if they start to experience difficulty breathing or if their symptoms worsen. They are also urging people to contact a healthcare provider if their child has a sudden onset of limb weakness.There might be a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 for children with asthma, according to the CDC.  

EV-D68 can also cause acute flaccid myelitis, an uncommon but serious neurologic condition which mostly affects children and causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak,” the CDC said. AFM could also be confused with a severe case of polio, which results in a similar condition called acute flaccid paralysis. There are no treatments currently available to specifically treat AFM. Doctors may provide antibody therapy to improve a patient’s immunity response or they may administer supportive care, like intubation or fluids.

One case of polio was recorded back in July, and the virus has been detected in wastewater across several counties in New York, but the Enterovirus which causes EV-D68 and the virus associated with polio are unrelated.

The EV-D68 virus was first identified in California in 1962, and prior outbreaks of EV-D68 occurred in 2014, 2016, 2018, and in 2020. The median age, according to the CDC data, for children who needed emergency care in 2018 was three years old, but children of all ages and stages of adolescence can be affected. Children with a history of asthma or any airway-restrictive disease seem more likely to need emergency medical care. Adults are less lliekly to get the virus.  It also seems to have a pattern of emerging every two years.

The CDC has issued recommendations regarding the virus, which are the same for the flu or any other virus that is transmutable from human to human. These safety precautions include washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, avoid people who are symptomatic, cover your cough or sneeze, clean and disinfect surfaces in your house frequently, and of course, stay home when you are sick. Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by someone else.


There are no available vaccines or therapies for any enterovirus as of yet, but that doesn’t mean that the CDC won’t force one upon us soon enough. And of course, experts are once again suggesting that we mask up our kids to assist in stopping the spread of EV-D68.