Enterovirus D-68 confirmed in Canada

More than 4,000 health professionals have been asked to be on the lookout for enterovirus infections that could cause respiratory illness, the Public Health Agency of Canada says. (CBC)

McMaster Children's Hospital is investigating three additional patients with muscle weakness, a symptom that has led to 139 diagnoses of enterovirus D-68 in Hamilton of the Polio-like disease that killed one child in Rhode Island this week. 

In total, four children are under investigation, however one is already confirmed as a case. They all are showing neurological symptoms, which have resulted in muscle fatigue.

"At this point, we don’t know the cause of the muscle weakness," said Dr. Lennox Huang, chief of pediatrics at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). “And it's not clear that it is EV-D68 related. However, along with our partners at the Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program, we are pursing the possibility of a connection and, in the interim, we want to keep parents informed."

Symptoms start out similar to the common cold, but can escalate into paralysis-like problems. Since Aug. 28, 139 cases have been confirmed in the Hamilton area. 

McMaster notes that "in the vast majority of cases, it causes only mild cold symptoms and patients recover well."

"Sudden onset of muscle weakness or partial paralysis is very rare in children and, whenever those symptoms appear, it’s important to seek immediate medical care," said Dr. Brandon Meaney, of head, pediatric neurology at MCH. "This is not common fatigue or body ache that we’re referring to. It’s much more serious than that. If your child is not able to walk, has trouble moving his or her limbs, or has problems breathing, take them to a doctor right away."

MCH said that symptoms also become serious when the child has breathing problems, and that children with asthma are particularly susceptible. They're encouraging strong hygenic practices, such as frequent hand washing, as well as getting a flu shot, as preventative measures. The flu shot, however, does not immunize patients from EV-D68.