Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Future Unclear for Kids Paralyzed After EV-D68 Infection


By R. Scott Rappold
WebMD Health News

Feb. 9, 2015 -- Allen Howe doesn’t need his walker much anymore.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Doctors don’t know if the 5-year-old will ever fully recover from the paralysis that began last fall, which eventually affected 80% of his young body. He couldn’t walk, lift his arms, or even swallow. A tube fed him.

“It was very frightening. Every day I asked questions at the hospital and the only answer was, ‘We don’t know,’” said Allen’s mother, Teresa Howe, of Coldwater, MI.

“It was so new they didn’t know.”

Doctors traced Allen’s paralysis to enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory illness that, according to the CDC, may be linked to 111 children in 34 states suffering from a paralysis called acute flaccid myelitis. Such an outbreak had never been seen before, and scientists are racing to understand the condition and develop a vaccine, even as many worry about another outbreak in 2015.

Making the situation even more frightening for families is the fact that nobody knows if, like with polio, the damage will be permanent.

Only one of the 111 children has fully recovered.

No Rhyme or Reason

A few months ago, Allen was in a hospital bed, writhing from pain neither he nor his doctors fully understood.

“He was just screaming, ‘Help me, Mom,’” Howe says.

It’s going to be OK, she assured her son through her tears.

“No,” he replied. “It’s not.”

A few generations ago, doctors may have suspected polio. That virus left 35,000 people a year, usually children, permanently crippled in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The development of a vaccine allowed public health officials to declare the U.S. polio-free in 1979.

But there are more than 100 strains of non-polio enteroviruses, including enterovirus D68. There have been isolated outbreaks of EV-D68 around the globe and in the U.S. since 2008.

But the outbreak that began in August 2014 eclipsed them all. Health officials have confirmed 1,153 cases in the U.S. through mid-January 2015. Nearly all of them were children, and many of them already had asthma or breathing problems. EV-D68 is primarily a respiratory illness, and its symptoms are similar to the common cold or flu. Health officials say thousands, or even millions, of cases were likely never reported.

source : Future Unclear for Kids Paralyzed After EV-D68 Infection

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