EDMONTON – After panicking parents across Canada two years ago, enterovirus D-68 is back but at much lower levels than in 2014.
Alberta Health has confirmed three cases of EV-D68 in 2016, including two in the last month. Two of the three cases had paralysis.
The province’s deputy Medical Officer of Health points out these would only be cases severe enough to go to a hospital and get tested. Most of the time, the virus causes cold-like symptoms, if any.
“It’s not because we identified a few very rare instances of something like this,” Dr. Martin Lavoie said. “That it means that it’s actually circulating and everybody’s going to get sick.”
“There’s nothing to be worried about. We’re not worried. Unfortunately we are seeing cases (with paralysis), rarely, but once in a while.”
Alberta Health reported zero cases of EV-D68 in 2015. It could not confirm exact numbers for 2014, but there were hundreds of cases across Canada.
READ MORE: Enterovirus is back: Cases of EV-D68 reported across Canada, U.S.
Lavoie explains EV-D68 can affect the central nervous system, which can cause muscle weakness or paralysis. It tends to affect kids with asthma more severely than the rest of the population.
Naiya Clarke found that out the hard way.
The six-year-old Edmonton girl has asthma. She had cold-like symptoms for a few days last month. Then, on Friday Sept. 23, she started complaining about a sore arm and neck.
“By the Monday, she was really weak in her right arm and we had to feed her lunch, which we thought was weird,” Naiya’s mother, Iesher Clarke, said.
Naiya also started feeling dizzy and was taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, just to be safe.
“Within 36 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down.”
“(The medical team) did a swab and they knew she had an enterovirus, but they weren’t sure what strain it was,” Clarke said.
Doctors suspect it was D68. Naiya spent three weeks in the Stollery, including two weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit. She had serious lung issues and was in severe nerve pain.
“As a mother, I was just terrified,” Clarke said. “My daughter came in here and now she can’t walk, her lungs are collapsing.”
“It was just my worst nightmare coming true.”
One month later, Naiya still can’t move her arms or legs much. She has acute flaccid myelitis and is in daily therapies at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. But she’s getting better every day.
Her family hopes their story will warn others about the importance of watching for symptoms like breathing issues and weakness.
“If we didn’t react the way we did and as fast as we did, we would have been at home when her lungs collapsed.”
A gofundme account has been created to help the family.