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By Linda Carroll
The connection between a respiratory virus called enterovirus D68 and a polio-like disease has been enhanced by new research showing an increase in both the virus and the reports of acute slack myelitis in children. in 2018, proposes a new government report.
The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthens previous research that the virus hits every two years and late summer and autumn.
In 2018, 358 of 2,579 patients tested were positive for EV-D68. In the same year, CDC confirmed 223 cases of the polio-like disease, acute slack myelitis. It compares to 2017, when the researchers found the virus in two out of 2,433 patients with acute respiratory disease tested.
The average age of patients who tested positive for EV-D68 was 3. Almost 60 percent of patients with EV-D68 were male, according to the CDC.
The new report came from a network that tracks acute respiratory disease in children and adolescents under the age of 18 at seven US medical centers: Cincinnati; Houston; Kansas City, Mo .; Nashville; Pittsburgh; Rochester, N.Y.; and Seattle.
This increase in cases in 2018 suggests that there will be fewer infections with EV-D68 and fewer cases of AFM in 2019, Dr. Matthew Elrick, pediatric neurologist and AFM expert at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine NBC News. "But just because it has been every second year so far does not mean it will continue to be exactly every two years."
AFM first attracted attention in 2014, when 120 cases were reported nationally.
The link with EV-D68 has been difficult to prove definitively because the symptoms of AFM often occur after the virus has cleared the airway, Elrick said. And tests have shown several viruses such as coxsackie virus A16 and enterovirus A71 in the patients' bodies, according to previous CDC reports.
"But the fact that outbreaks of EV-D68 and AFM come together – there were spikes in the number of cases in 2014, 2016 and 2018 – and the fact that EV-D68 appears in respiratory samples of rough half of AFM patients safely add that it is likely to be the leading cause drug, "Elrick said.
Experts suspect that in many of the children infected with EV-D68 the symptoms are restricted to the airways. 196,590 07] "There is probably a very small percentage of children getting an infection and developing AFM as a result," Elrick said. "They are often asymptomatic or have a mild cold."
Researchers still learn how AFM resembles polio. While both viruses can cause paralysis, they affect different parts of the body. AFM is very rare, but it can change, Elrick said. Polio did not immediately become a widespread problem and EV-D68 is in the same virus virus, he added.
Some experts have suggested that the enterovirus could mutate to become more infectious. "There is nothing yet to suggest that changes in the virus are associated with transmission or infectivity," said Dr. Susan Gerber, a CDC researcher on the division of viral diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told NBC News in an email.
CDC data show an increasing number of cases in the even numbered years:
- In 2017, CDC received information for 35 confirmed cases of AFM in 16 states.
- In 2016, CDC received information for 149 confirmed cases of AFM in 39 states and DC.
- In 2015, CDC received information for 22 confirmed cases of AFM in 17 states.
- From August to December 2014, CDC received information for 120 people confirmed cases by the AFM in 34 states.
Elrick said he found the number of children diagnosed with AFM in 2018 to relate, as it coincides with the trend in increasing cases shown in previous years.