Originally published October 27 2014
Rhode Island child with mysterious respiratory virus dies as disease spreads across the country
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) An unusual and abrupt respiratory virus has been sweeping during late summer throughout the US, mostly affecting children. The virus has been identified as enterovirus D68. Panic-stricken parents are quick to rush their children to the hospital, but experts say the sickness is not life-threatening most of the time.
Dr. Michael Fine, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a statement: "Many of us will have EV-D68. Most of us will have very mild symptoms and all but very few will recover quickly and completely. The vast majority of children exposed to EV-D68 recover completely."
There had been no reported deaths from enterovirus D68, so hospitalization isn't necessary unless the child is sincerely having life-threatening breathing problems or difficulty moving limbs, as the virus may produce symptoms similar to those of polio.
10-year-old girl dies from enterovirus-staph combinationIt appears that taking a child to the hospital may have greater repercussions. Health officials from the Rhode Island Health Department report that a 10-year-old girl died from a staph infection associated with the enterovirus. Staph infections are now commonly transmitted at hospitals. The Rhode Island health officials call the infection "a very rare combination."
"We are all heartbroken to hear about the death of one of Rhode Island's children," said Dr. Michael Fine of the RI Health Department.
When 10-year-old Emily Ortrando started having trouble breathing, she was immediately rushed to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. At the hospital, the enterovirus became a double-headed monster when the young girl came down with a comorbid staph infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 472 people across 41 states, and the District of Columbia, have been infected with the respiratory virus. This is the first death related to the enterovirus. Typically, the virus causes mild illness, with symptoms that mimic the common cold. However, in some cases the immune system of the child can be overtaken; the virus can move past the child's throat and plunge deep into their respiratory system. The most at-risk children are those with underlying conditions like asthma. Some hospitals have to resort to life support to keep children breathing.
Mysterious enterovirus D68 looks like polio in some casesOn top of that, a rare strain of the virus is causing some children to undergo neurological difficulties and polio-like symptoms. In Colorado, nine cases of muscle weakness or paralysis have been linked to the virus, although nothing is confirmed at the moment. These cases seem very similar to polio, although health officials say eight of the nine children are up to date on their polio vaccinations.
Infectious disease expert John Chia told CBS Los Angeles that the virus penetrates the airways readily, "And then it can become a persistent infection in the lungs. Or it can go through the blood stream and reach the central nervous system."
"That's how I think poliomyelitis occurred in those cases," he said. The virus's polio-like devastation has paralyzed two children in the past, both of whom had the virus in their spinal fluid. Just this year, Stanford University identified polio-like illness in 20 children in an 18-month time period, but only two of them tested positive for enterovirus D68.
Questions remain: Why is enterovirus D68 evolving into a polio hybrid illness in some cases? Why is a polio hybrid illness making its way into the US, in a heavily vaccinated population? Why is it primarily affecting children? How might enterovirus D68 welcome other infections, like the staph infection that ultimately took the life of this 10-year-old girl? Are hospitals a safe place anymore?
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