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Health officials issue warning after rise in polio-like bug which can leave kids paralysed

Enterovirus D68 can be spread easily through coughs and sneezes

Boy (6-7) blowing nose into white handkerchief, close-up(Image: Getty Images)

Concerns over a polio-like bug which can leave children paralysed are growing after an increase of reported cases in the UK.

Health officials at Public Health England have issued a warning to parents after four kids were rushed to hospital suffering with bug Enterovirus D68.

The youngsters appeared to have lost the use of their limbs after they initially complained of having respiratory problems.

Public Health England has confirmed 38 cases of EV D68 so far this year, which in rare cases have left victims fighting to breathe and even caused death.

Children aged between four and 12 are most in danger of getting the virus that can also leave victims with 'polio-like' long-term nerve damage.

The vicious disease, which currently has no cure or anti-viral vaccine, can be spread easily through coughs and sneezes with most patients being admitted to hospital with respiratory problems - and in rare cases neurological issues.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has described it as an epidemic after reported cases across Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Germany increased from April 2016.

In 2014, 14 patients died in the US after contracting EV-D68, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are no reported deaths from the disease in the UK.

Find out below how you can protect your child from EV D68.

What are the symptoms?

EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory problems

  • Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
  • Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing

How to prevent it?

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth with hand when you cough or sneeze and tell your child to as well. Then immediately wash your hands
  • Children with asthma are at particular risk with EV-D68, so doctors advise to give your child a flu shot, which can help to prevent the illness
  • Keep sick children out of school and stay home yourself
  • Don't share cups or eating utensils with, or kiss and hug, people who are sick

Can it be treated?

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68, but your doctor will be able to advise on the best way to control his or her symptoms.

  • Most children recover with no lasting problems
  • However, hundreds of patients in UK, Europe and US have been left with limb problems - or been paralysed
  • Intensive treatment and supportive care, including oxygen, can help
  • On average, patients are in hospital with the illness for one to five days

In 2014 an outbreak of the virus spread across the United States - infecting more than 1,000 children and possibly leaving more than 100 children paralysed, according to a study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

After the outbreak, British health officials launched an investigation and found 56 cases that year and 14 cases in 2015.

The unusual drop in cases for 2015 was also seen in America, but it seems reported cases are on the rise this year.

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