Home / News / Enterovirus can weaken muscles, cause paralysis in kids; cases on rise: Symptoms, treatment, prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency of the United States, has issued a warning over an increase in the number of enterovirus cases. Enterovirus-D68 is a virus that causes a respiratory illness in children, weakens their muscles, and causes a type of paralysis called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). While AFM is rare, full recovery from it is even rare. Polio falls in the enterovirus family and both enterovirus-D68 and poliovirus can overwhelm the nervous system and cause weakness in the muscles.

In this article, we would focus on what this virus is, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention tips, and enterovirus in India.

WHAT IS ENTEROVIRUS?

Enterovirus, which was first detected in 1962, is one of the non-polio enteroviruses.

According to the CDC, most people who get infected with non-polio enteroviruses “do not get sick, or they only have mild illness, like the common cold". Enterovirus entails a wide range of symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, and body and muscle aches. In rare cases, enterovirus can cause paralysis.

There are three types of non-polio enteroviruses: enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), enterovirus A71 (EV-A71), and coxsackie virus A6 (CV-A6).

While D68 usually causes respiratory illness, A71 and A6 are better known to cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. Enterovirus are generally active during summer and autumn seasons.

ENTEROVIRUS SYMPTOMS

1 Some cases have no symptoms

2 Some have mild: Runny nose, sneezing, cough, body aches, and muscle aches

3 Some cases have severe symptoms: Wheezing (to breathe noisily), and difficulty breathing

CAN ENTEROVIRUS CAUSE PARALYSIS?

Enterovirus-D68, which affects the nervous system, can also cause acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). AFM is very uncommon; it can cause serious neurologic conditions in children due to which muscles and reflexes can become weak.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?

See a doctor if the kids develop these symptoms:

1 Arm or leg weakness

2 Pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs

3 Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

4 Difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids

5 Facial droop or weakness

HOW DOES ENTEROVIRUS SPREAD?

The virus of Enterovirus-D68, which is a respiratory illness, can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or mucus-like secretions from the lungs.

It spreads from a person to person when an infected person “coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others", according to the CDC.

DIAGNOSIS

According to the CDS, enterovirus-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat, or blood.

ENTEROVIRUS TREATMENT

There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with enterovirus-D68, according to the CDC.

PREVENTION

1 Wash your hands often with soap

2 Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands aren’t washed

3 Avoid close contact with an infected person

4 Cover your coughs and sneezes

5 Disinfect frequently touched surfaces

There have been no official cases of enterovirus-D68 in India.

(With inputs from CDC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanchal

Chanchal is a chief content producer at LiveMint. Chanchal is obsessed with Google incognito. She likes writing, politics, Oxford comma, Eddie Vedder, and a good keyboard. Follow her @chanchaltracks. If you have a story idea, send her a mail at chanchal@htdigital.in
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