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Could Illegal Unaccompanied Minors Be Spreading New Mystery Virus to U.S.?

Michael Morris
By Michael Morris | October 1, 2014 | 3:56 PM EDT

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory on September 26 stating that “nine pediatric patients were hospitalized with an acute neurologic illness of undetermined etiology.”

The CDC is investigating the nine cases of acute neurological illness and paralysis in Colorado children to see if enterovirus 68 (EV-D68) is the virus responsible for their symptoms.

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These illnesses, having occurred since August 1, 2014, are “characterized by focal limb weakness” and abnormalities of the spinal cord “consisting of non-enhancing lesions largely restricted to the gray matter” on MRI, says the CDC.

To date, none of the children affected have experienced seizures or altered mental status, and none have had any “cortical, subcortical, basal ganglia, or thalamic lesions on MRI.”

Curiously though, most of the children reported a respiratory illness in the two weeks leading up to the development of neurologic symptoms.

Could these children have been infected by the same respiratory illness brought over by the masses of illegal immigrant children from Latin America?

According to the CDC, “[n]asopharyngeal specimens were positive for rhinovirus/enterovirus in six out of eight patients that were tested. Of the six positive specimens, four were typed as EV-D68, and the other two are pending typing results.”

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The CDC, in a post regarding EV-D68, noted that such infections “have recently been documented across the United States.” Thus far, 472 respiratory illness cases caused by EV-D68 have been confirmed in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

The virus (EV-D68), confirmed mostly in children and one adult, is an influenza-like virus common to Latin America, and according to BBC, most (more than 90 percent) of the illegal immigrant children caught trying to cross the border into the U.S. are from Latin American, specifically the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The CDC is asking state and local health departments to report patients with similar cases of neurological illnesses by using a brief patient summary form and submitting that form at limbweakness@cdc.gov.

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