Working 4 You: Is Enterovirus causing paralysis?

Working 4 You: Is Enterovirus causing paralysis?

While doctors try to get a handle on the rapidly spreading Enterovirus D-68, they have a new side effect to deal with: paralysis. Investigators now say some of the children testing positive for the virus are having trouble moving their arms and legs.

Before we go any further, you should know that researchers don’t want you to panic. Even though this virus is scary and is now showing up in nearly every state, it’s still pretty rare and most children won’t experience the most troubling side effects. Still, it has many parents concerned.

At last check, 277 people have tested positive for the virus. The CDC says that number will rise, as more samples are tested. The virus acts much like the common cold, but children with pre-existing conditions are ending up in the hospital with severe respiratory problems. Many are now having increasing difficulty moving their arms and legs.

“In a circumstance like that, the virus actually infects the central nervous system, the spinal cord,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University. “[The virus] caused injury to some of the cells and that’s what causes the paralysis.” What doctors don’t know is why and whether or not that paralysis will be permanent.

Aside from putting your kids in a bubble, there’s not much you can do to avoid this virus. Remind your kids to wash their hands and not share cups and utensils. Also, keep kids with medical issues out of areas where they can more easily contract it.

For more information and to track the progress of Enterovirus, check out this page from the Washington Department of Health or this page for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.