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Health officials link paralysis in two children to enterovirus D68

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Lab results have confirmed two of four patients at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, who last week were reported to be suffering from symptoms of paralysis, have enterovirus D68.

The two new confirmed cases bring the total number of cases in Alberta of enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68, to 52.

Dr. Gerald Predy, senior medical officer for Alberta Health Services, said officials are examining the connection between D68, which has been linked to severe respiratory problems among youngsters, and the polio-like symptoms, which include weakened limbs or faces.

“Two of those four children have been shown to have an infection with D68. Exactly what the relationship is to the syndrome is still being elucidated,” he said.

“Across North America there has been some association with that infection and these neurologic symptoms. How it actually causes that, if it does cause that, is still not known for sure.”

Test results for the other two children also suffering from paralysis have confirmed they do not have D68, Predy said.

The ages of all four patients and their current condition, including if they remain in hospital, is not being released.

Predy said so far there are very few reports of children across North America who are infected with enterovirus D68 also suffering from the neurologic syndrome.

“It is a relatively rare association,” he said.

“There’s no reason to panic. The vast majority of kids who come down with D68 or other enteroviruses have a very mild illness … It’s nothing to panic about,” he said.

Patients with D68 can suffer from runny noses and fevers and they can also have trouble breathing, especially if they have asthma or some other respiratory illness.

In British Columbia, two young males with the virus have each developed weaknesses in one arm, a form of paralysis, but health officials have not yet determined whether these symptoms are linked to the virus.

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