WASHINGTON (dpa) – A severe respiratory virus responsible for hospitalising hundreds of children in 40 states is believed to be related to muscle weakness and paralysis symptoms displayed in children in Colorado.
A tenth child was confirmed to have paralysis-like symptoms at the Children’s Hospital in Denver on Monday, according to an online story in the Denver Post newspaper.
So far, six of the ten children with the paralysis symptoms have been discharged and are now receiving outpatient care.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Monday updated a nationwide health alert urging doctors to look for neurological symptoms in patients suffering from respiratory illnesses.
The CDC said Monday that the number of cases of the respiratory virus has gone from 277 confirmed cases last week to 443 cases of enterovirus D68 (EVD68).
The paralysis symptoms among the 10 children in Colorado developed after they were hospitalised for respiratory illnesses at the Children’s Hospital in Denver.
The CDC confirmed that four of the children experiencing paralysis tested positive for enterovirus D68 (EVD68), and four tested positive for rhinovirus or another unidentified strain of enterovirus.
“This is a very small number of patients,” Larry Wolk, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, told the Denver Post. “That’s why we’re asking if there are other cases. People shouldn’t panic.”
Because EDV68 testing is not simple or widely available, it has been necessary for state and local health departments or the CDC to confirm cases.
The CDC said it may be able to provide diagnostic test kits for state public health labs to test more patients for the respiratory illness.
Since schools reopened after summer break, hundreds of children have been hospitalised with respiratory virus, starting in Illinois, Missouri and Colorado.
Already in early September, Children’s Hospital in Denver reported 900 cases of children with severe respiratory distress, more than any other city. Not all of the cases were tested for the EDV68. Deaths from the virus have never been reported in the US, but it has been lethal in other countries. A 2011 CDC report cited two deaths in the Philippines and one in Japan between 2008 and 2010.
The virus was also reported in the past in the Netherlands. There are currently no vaccines or antiviral medications to prevent or treat the disease.