Parents advised to look out for signs of Enterovirus illness following a spike in cases

Families have been told to look for the symptoms of Enterovirus among kids after health protection agency reports of rise in cases.

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Parents have been warned to look out for signs of respiratory illness in their children after a reported spike in cases of Enterovirus.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an alert over the spread of a common childhood virus that commonly leads to respiratory illness and can cause muscle weakness or paralysis in rare cases.

The Polio-like weakness is spreading among children and as a result the CDC has identified more EV-D68 cases among children with severe respiratory illness than in the past three years combined. There were 84 such cases from March through Aug. 4. In comparison, they identified six cases in 2019, 30 in 2020 and 16 in 2021. But these figures are expected to be much higher.

Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist at UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute who treats patients at Children’s Health in Dallas thinks cases are rising due to children going back to school.

"We have a group of kids now who’ve never seen the virus, because they weren’t having school exposures. So we think the at-risk population is bigger than in 2020," he said.

Dr Greenberg highlighted the symptoms of Enterovirus which like the common cold, can cause a runny nose, sneezing, body aches or muscle aches. Meanwhile, children who need hospitalisation tend to have coughs, shortness of breath, wheezing and - in about half of cases - fever.


(Image credit: Getty)

Experts have advised parents to be diligent about hand-washing and to wear a mask in public to protect themselves and their children from Enterovirus.

Both EV-D68 and poliovirus can invade the nervous system and cause muscle weakness and result in a condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, which is characterised by inflammation in the neck region of the spinal cord. 

As of September 2nd, 13 cases of AMF - ranging from people experiencing difficulties moving their arms to weakness in all four extremities.

Dr. Sarah Hopkins, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told ABC News that she expected a spike in recent years but the Coronavirus pandemic meant figures were lower than normal.

“We really thought this was going to happen in 2020, because we had the last spike in 2018. But then with mask-wearing and social distancing and all those things that limit the spread of a respiratory virus, we didn’t have that expected spike,” she explained.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)