Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enterovirus d68

With everyone focused on a possible Ebola outbreak, the growing epidemic of enterovirus d68 infection is getting scant attention.  It has been infecting children all over the country and so far is directly responsible for two deaths and indirectly responsible for at least four more.  While it is primarily a respiratory infection, it has caused paralysis in a small percentage of patients, indicating that it is able to attack the nervous system as well.

The fact that this is getting so little attention now is dangerous.  The enterovirus outbreak is widespread enough that everyone needs to know what symptoms to watch for.  This article explains many of the basics on what to be on the lookout for.

I've seen a lot of speculation that this virus was brought in by all the immigrants Obama allowed in this summer, and I've also seen it connected with other outbreaks in Asia and Australia instead of Central America.  It's a virus that hasn't exactly been non-existent in this country, it was first identified in California in the 60's, and has been around ever since then.  It's always caused a few illnesses here and there every spring and summer, but this current outbreak and its widespread nature indicate a new strain that likely has several points of origin in this country.

This is one area where I truly don't know who to believe.  When the outbreak first made the news, I read a lot of message boards that said it was likely from Central America because polio is still prevalent down there and polio is also an enterovirus, but this categorization is extremely general and really means nothing.  On the other hand, this paper from the Virology Journal does seem to indicate that enterovirus respiratory infections were very prevalent in Latin America just a year ago. It's time like this when I really wish we had a media willing to investigate facts, even ones that may be embarrassing to the current administration.

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