October 17, 2014

USA: Enterovirus D68: Eight California Cases Of Rare Illness; Some Patients Suffer Paralysis. The Rare Respiratory Illness Has Hospitalized More Than 400 Children Nationwide,

Mercury News
written by Susan Abram
Thursday October 2, 2014

Two more California children were reported sickened with enterovirus D68, the rare respiratory illness that has hospitalized more than 400 children nationwide, is appearing locally.

The cases reported Wednesday were in Los Angeles County: An infant was hospitalized at Miller Children's and Women's Hospital in Long Beach and a little boy was brought to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. That child, whose age was given as between 5 and 10, suffered some limb paralysis, said Dr. Gloria Aldrovandi, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital.

At least six other California children, one from the Bay Area, have now been sickened by enterovirus 68, and more cases are expected, state health officials said Wednesday. The California children range in age from 7 months to 13 years. Four were from San Diego, while Ventura and Alameda counties each had one case. To date, there have been no fatalities attributable to EV-D68 reported in California, said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist, for state public health department.

So far, 443 children have been hospitalized in 40 states. One child, from Rhode Island, has died, although there could be more. The virus appears to mostly affect children who have had a history of wheezing or asthma.

"What we are seeing is an attack on the spinal cord and brain stem," Aldrovandi said of some of the more severe cases.

For many parents, it's hard to tell the difference between a cold and enterovirus 68, but parents of children with asthma should especially be vigilant, health experts have said.

But they also say that most enteroviruses are very common among children and do not lead to serious illness.
"Acute limb weakness and other neurological symptoms are uncommon with any enterovirus, including EV-D68," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, interim health officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

States such as Illinois and Missouri reported mass hospitalizations among children late this summer.

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