An alarming rise in the number of cases of a mysterious polio-like illness that produces paralysis in young children is said to have "health officials scrambling to figure out the cause." Baffled infectious disease experts are quoted to say: "What we do know is that these patients had fever and respiratory symptoms 3 to 10 days before their limb weakness."
But the primary culprit, believed to be enterovirus 68, produced no laboratory confirmed cases in 2016. The World Health Organization has been charting acute flaccid paralysis on a worldwide basis for some time now. It is not a new phenomenon. However, acute flaccid paralysis confirmed by viral testing was not even reported in America in the years 2003-2004. Nor was a single case of acute flaccid paralysis reported in the U.S. till the fall of 2014 (120 confirmed cases). Over 150 cases have been reported by mid-November 2018. This outbreak is geographically widespread, reported in 46 states. This suggests contaminated food rather than water may be involved.
Enterovirus-68, which is the enterovirus believed to be triggering the recent outbreak of flaccid paralysis, was first isolated in 1962 from children with respiratory illness and remained in limited circulation in the U.S. for four decades with only 26 cases reported between 1970 and 2005.