Enterovirus D68 seen to cause paralysis in patients in the UK

There are 38 cases of infant paralysis caused by infection with a common virus called enterovirus D68 in the UK this year, an increase from 2015’s 14 infected people. Four young children in Edinburgh have lost movement of their limbs due to the virus.

The virus has been linked to some patients experiencing rapid muscle weakening and paralysis of the limbs. Young children are most at risk because of their undeveloped immune system, and symptoms can start with a sore throat or cold but can lead to muscles not working and people not being able to breathe. Several sporadic cases of the virus have also been seen in the US and Canada.

Advice For Travellers

Enterovirus D68 is a common virus usually associated with the common cold. It is easily spread through coughing and sneezing as well as infected bodily fluids such as saliva and mucus. Travellers should practice good hygiene precautions and avoid coming in close contact with people experiencing flu-like symptoms if possible. Mild symptoms include cold-like symptoms and muscle aching, and severe symptoms include wheezing and shortness of breath. If severe symptoms develop, travellers should seek medical care at once.

The Public Health England Agency reports that these sporadic cases of paralysis are scattered across the UK. The risk that EV-D68 is circulating in the community largely un-detected is moderate according to the agency.