New Research Tightens Childhood Paralysis-Enterovirus D68 Link

Lab tests confirm half of cases in recent outbreak tied to specific virus strain

MONDAY, March 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — New research strengthens the suspected connection between a virus called enterovirus D68 and the sudden development of paralysis in children in California and Colorado between 2012 and 2014.

The researchers found the genetic signature of a specific type of enterovirus D68, called B1, in half of youngsters who developed acute flaccid myelitis. This complication causes sudden muscle weakness and paralysis. The researchers didn’t find any other infectious agent that was capable of causing the children’s symptoms.

This strain of enterovirus D68 first appeared about four years ago, according to the study authors. The researchers also found signs that this strain of enterovirus doesn’t always lead to complications. In a pair of siblings infected by the strain, only one developed acute flaccid myelitis.

“This suggests that it’s not only the virus, but also patients’ individual biology that determines what disease they may present with,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, associate professor of laboratory medicine and director of the University of California, San Francisco-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center.

“Given that none of the children have fully recovered, we urgently need to continue investigating this new strain … and its potential to cause acute flaccid myelitis,” he said in a university news release.

The study was published in the March 30 issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

More information

For more about enterovirus D68, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Randy Dotinga
SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, March 30, 2015

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