The CDC has issued a health alert
notifying parents of a rare temporary paralysis-like symptom that has occurred in 10 children during the past two months in Colorado. (A Denver Post story
has identified an 11th child).
The CDC alert noted that the children were hospitalized with muscle weakness or paralysis mostly in their arms or legs, and that it seems to be a rare sickness. Four of the 10 children tested positive for the enterovirus D68 but it is not clear if the rare enterovirus is linked to the paralysis-like symptoms.
The CDC stated “We don’t know yet what caused this illness or whether it spreads from one person to another. If a parent sees a child isn’t walking correctly or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, the parent should contact a doctor right away.”
The CDC listed the following observations about the children:
Most had a problem with their spinal cord that could be seen on a magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan.
All had a fever, most with symptoms of respiratory illness, about one week before they felt muscle weakness.
None of the children had any kind of virus found in their spinal fluid. However, it is possible that the correct test has not been done yet, or that the specimen was collected too late to find a virus.
About half of the children had EV-D68 in their nose secretions; the virus typically affects breathing. The CDC do not yet know whether this respiratory infection is linked to their muscle weakness.
The CDC warned that while the cause of the sickness is not known yet, or whether it can be spread from person to person, it is best to follow basic steps to protect yourself from illness, including, washing your hands: 1) before you touch food; 2) after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, changing a baby’s diaper, or touching an animal, an animal’s food, pee or poop; and 3) before and after taking care of a sick person or a cut or wound.
For parents, the CDC advised that if your child is having problems walking or standing or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, you are advised to contact a doctor right away.
Health Alert Network - Practitioners Warned to Look for Unexplained Paralysis-like Symptoms
The CDC is working closely with partners in Colorado and elsewhere to find out why the children hospitalized are sick. In the meantime, doctors and nurses who see patients with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs are being told to test them to see if they might have this sickness.
More specifically, the CDC has issued a health advisory
notifying health professionals to report patients under the age of 21 who have the following two symptoms:
Acute onset of focal limb weakness occurring on or after August 1, 2014
An MRI showing a spinal cord lesion largely restricted to gray matter.