All over our TVs we have been seeing the recent out-breaks of Enterovirus 68 or EV D-68, the rare viral infection that causes symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and low blood oxygen levels. Enterovirus infections are actually really common; the U.S alone has 10-15 million infections in the summer and fall. For the EV D-68 virus 500 people have been reported with the illness, 1 person has died, and it has been in 42 different states and 4 providences that are flooding hospitals all over the country. The EV D-68 virus affects more children than adults and target people who have asthma or other respiratory issues which could lead to severe problems.
The first out breaks of this virus was in 1962, since 1962 through 2005 there has only been 26 confirmed reports of the virus. EV D-68 Is included in one of the 100 types of enteroviruses, a group of ssRNA viruses containing the polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, and echoviruses. The virus had a lower optimum growth temperature, both characteristic features of the human rhinoviruses. EV D-68 spreads like a cold: sneezing, coughing, and touching other people that are infected. According to the Huffington Post the way the virus works is that it binds to the same target, a series of molecules known as a2-6 sialie acids. The upper respiratory tract is full of these receptors and can easily bind a normal virus which leads to common cold symptoms that we see in EV D-68. It is possible that the virus can move down to the lower respiratory tract which can cause more complications. Like the Hepatitis C virus EV D-68 uses a protein known as a 3C protease to break down an immune signal in cells and prevent some of the normal functions. The virus continues to infect the person while not having any idea and suddenly the symptoms come out of nowhere and in severe cases have paralysis.
Health specialists are detecting whether the enterovirus D68 is linked to neurological symptoms, including muscle weakness, and paralysis. The challenge for doctors and infectious disease experts is that they don’t know exactly why the symptoms are so wide and varied. Doctors have yet to find a cure or medications and have not yet released if neurological symptoms are part of the virus. To prevent this disease from affecting more people wash your hands, stay home when you are sick or are feeling bad, and stay away from people who are sick. This virus is very recent and researchers don’t know why it has become such a spread and varied illness. Once researchers find out what is causing this virus to affect so many people it will help the speed of the virus to slow down. In the meantime if anyone has any symptoms of EV D-68 go to the doctor right away, it is better to be safe than sorry and the symptoms to become more severe and potentially have feelings of paralysis. Hopefully we will stop EV D-68 in time to only have 4 people die of this rare and unusual virus.