The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued advisory advice after an increase in the number of children hospitalized with acute respiratory illnesses, including EV-D68, since July.
While most of the historical cases were confined to the United States, it was previously known that the infection had spread to Europe, according to the Russia Today website.
Enterovirus D68, which was first reported in California in 1962 and was originally considered rare, has seen a spike in case numbers since 2001. According to CDC experts, most cases of EV-D68 cause no symptoms, or only Mild symptoms such as aches, cough and gonorrhea.
Fever has been reported in about half of cases, however, in rare cases, the virus is thought to affect the spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis in a condition known as “acute flaccid myelitis”.
While this condition is believed to have various other causes, 90% of known cases have been observed in young children.
The CDC explained that enterovirus D68 spreads “when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that others use afterwards.”
They added: “In general, infants, children and adolescents are most susceptible to enterovirus infection and disease.
This is because they are not yet immune from previous exposure to these viruses. Adults can be infected with enteroviruses, but they are likely to have no or mild symptoms.
The CDC has advised doctors in the United States to consider EV-D68 as a possible cause in any child with severe acute respiratory illness, with or without fever.
Meanwhile, the public was encouraged to take basic precautions to protect against EV-D68 and other respiratory viruses.
This includes washing hands regularly, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home when feeling unwell.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against infection with EV-D68 – however, staying up to date on Covid boosters and flu shots can help stop complications from viral illnesses.
Experts added that children with severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing should be taken for medical care as soon as possible.
The CDC also warns that children with asthma are at greater risk of developing severe illness when infected with enterovirus D68.
Tracking the spread of EV-D68 is difficult because most hospitals and physician offices in the United States do not perform the tests needed to diagnose a particular type of enterovirus.
However, the CDC recommended that health care providers in the United States maintain “vigilance and report potential cases of acute flaccid myelitis to the state or local health department.”
While historical cases of EV-D68 have been limited primarily to the United States, outbreaks have been known on the other hand.
As PHE explains: “In August 2014, the USA and Canada reported an increase in EV-D68 detections associated with cases of acute respiratory disease and cases of unexplained neurological disease. In response, UK and European surveillance of EV-D68 was strengthened, and in In 2014 and 2015, 56 and 14 cases, respectively, were detected in the United Kingdom.
They added that in 2018, “68 laboratory-confirmed cases of EV-D68 were diagnosed by the National Reference Laboratories in England and Wales”.