CDC warns about increase in respiratory infections that can lead to paralysis in children

CDC: Illness linked to condition that can cause paralysis
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) -The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning healthcare providers to be on the lookout for a type of enterovirus.

“Many of those affected can get paralysis and that is very concerning,” said Dr. Nicholas Haddad, infectious disease specialist.

A growing concern in the US, is enterovirus d68. The CDC announced an increase in respiratory illnesses that are affecting children. At least one case has already been reported in Michigan.

“The child would have a cough, congestion, maybe a little fever, just the regular cold,” Haddad said. “And then a few days later they would have this weakness. If that occurs, then I would definitely recommend immediate evaluation by the pediatrician.”

The first outbreak was in 2014 and every two years since the virus has seen an increase, with the exception of 2020 during the nationwide mask mandate. This year, respiratory illness is on the rise again and physicians say this is the time of year cases peak.

“Just like there’s a flu season, there’s a season for this sort of infection as well,” said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, ear, throat and nose doctor. “And that’s just because of the nature of the spread of the virus, where it comes from, and how easy it is to spread from person to person.”

Though children who already have respiratory conditions such as asthma are more prone to catching it, any child exposed to it can get it.

“You can sneeze, and you can catch it like, it’s a respiratory problem so that’s where you can spread it,” Mukkamala said. “Just like RSV is another example of that or the common cold for that matter.”

The CDC says only in severe cases will children experience paralysis, typically in the arms or legs. Parents are advised to keep their children’s vaccines updated and encourage frequent hand washing.