Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Rare respiratory virus, paralysis spreading

01 October 2014, 11:55

Washington - An unusual respiratory virus has sickened more than 400 children across the United States, and the emergence of sudden paralysis in some Colorado youths is sparking concern among doctors.

The nationwide outbreak of enterovirus D68 - which can cause wheezing and coughing - coincided with the hospitalisation of nine children due to limb weakness in Colorado since early August, and officials are investigating if there is any link between the two.

The nine children in Colorado "had respiratory illness and later developed neurologic illness," the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.

In the meantime, experts are struggling to understand why so many young people - ranging in age from one to 18 - have fallen ill from the virus in the past two months.

Also Read: 1 400 US troops soon headed to Liberia for Ebola mission

"It is concerning," said Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

"It is not clear why, given the widespread nature of this virus, at this point it is now showing some neurological symptoms in a very small portion of patients," he told AFP.

"The investigation is ongoing to find if there is a link."

Eight of the nine children afflicted with paralysis are up to date on their polio vaccines.

Some are reported to be improving, and it remains unclear whether or not their paralysis will be permanent.

Can infect nervous system

Some enteroviruses, including D68, have been shown in rare cases in the past to be capable of causing neurologic symptoms and sudden muscle weakness.

"The virus can infect the central nervous system, causing injury to some of the cells and the spinal cord, and that is what actually leads to the paralysis," said Glatter.

The emergence of paralysis cases, so far only in Colorado, suggests "it is possible that the virus may be mutating," he added.

"It is not clear why some children are affected and others aren't at this point. So it is an ongoing puzzle that we are hoping to solve in the near future," said Glatter.

Also Read: US tracks family, contacts of Ebola patient
Meanwhile, the outbreak is expanding fast. Earlier this month, the CDC said about a dozen states had reported cases. By the end of September, 40 states were implicated.

Enterovirus D68 is not new. It was first discovered in 1962, but has remained fairly uncommon, experts say.

About two dozen child paralysis cases were reported in California last year, though experts have not established any connections between the outbreaks.

Viruses in this family typically circulate in the late summer to early fall, before flu season begins in earnest.


If the seasons start to overlap, experts say the potential for dual infections could be particularly dangerous for children with asthma.

"Hopefully as the weather gets colder that will help the epidemic subside," said Roberto Posada, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai in New York.

"I think the best advice for parents in terms of preventing infection is always hand-washing, hand-washing, hand-washing."

In the meantime, doctors are urging parents to keep a close eye on their children, and seek urgent medical care if they show difficulty breathing - even if they do not have a high temperature.

"About a third of kids do not have fever," said Glatter.

If parents see "wheezing and weakness, numbness, tingling with respiratory symptoms and congestion they need to go the hospital immediately. This is not a time to delay."


Tags us health

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...