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Aug 23, 2022

This week we will discuss Polio and Enterovirus (EV)-D68

Most people who get infected with poliovirus will not have any visible symptoms.

About 1 out of 4 people (or 25 out of 100) with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that can include:

  • Sore throat

  • Fever

  • Tiredness

  • Nausea

  • Headache

  • Stomach pain

These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days, then go away on their own.

A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop other, more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:

  • Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain)occurs in about 1–5 out of 100 people with poliovirus infection, depending on virus type

  • Paralysis (can’t move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both occurs in about 1 out of 200 people to 1 in 2000 people, depending on virus type

Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with poliovirus because it can lead to permanent disability and death. Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die, because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.

Even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome.

Note that “poliomyelitis” (or “polio” for short) is defined as the paralytic disease. So only people with the paralytic infection are considered to have the disease. (Credits: CDC)

Enterovirus was first identified in California in 1962, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses.

EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, or no symptoms at all.

  • Mild symptoms may include runny nose, sneezing, cough, body aches, and muscle aches.

  • Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

The link between Enterovirus D68 and a polio-like illness has been bolstered by new research showing a spike in both the virus and reports of acute flaccid myelitis in children in 2018, a new government report suggests.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinforces previous research that the virus strikes every other year and in the late summer and early fall.

Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing or if their symptoms are getting worse. Seek immediate medical attention if you or your child develops any of these symptoms following a respiratory illness:

  • arm or leg weakness

  • pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs

  • difficulty swallowing or slurred speech

  • difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids

  • facial droop or weakness