Increase in Acute Respiratory Illnesses Among Children and Adolescents Associated with Rhinoviruses and Enteroviruses, Including Enterovirus D68 - United States, July-September 2022.

07 Oct 2022
Ma KC, Winn A, Moline HL, Scobie HM, Midgley CM, Kirking HL, Adjemian J, Hartnett KP, Johns D, Jones JM, Lopez A, Lu X, Perez A, Perrine CG, Rzucidlo AE, McMorrow ML, Silk BJ, Stein Z, Vega E, New Vaccine Surveillance Network Collaborators, Hall AJ

Increases in severe respiratory illness and acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) among children and adolescents resulting from enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infections occurred biennially in the United States during 2014, 2016, and 2018, primarily in late summer and fall. Although EV-D68 annual trends are not fully understood, EV-D68 levels were lower than expected in 2020, potentially because of implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures (e.g., wearing face masks, enhanced hand hygiene, and physical distancing) (1). In August 2022, clinicians in several geographic areas notified CDC of an increase in hospitalizations of pediatric patients with severe respiratory illness and positive rhinovirus/enterovirus (RV/EV) test results.* Surveillance data were analyzed from multiple national data sources to characterize reported trends in acute respiratory illness (ARI), asthma/reactive airway disease (RAD) exacerbations, and the percentage of positive RV/EV and EV-D68 test results during 2022 compared with previous years. These data demonstrated an increase in emergency department (ED) visits by children and adolescents with ARI and asthma/RAD in late summer 2022. The percentage of positive RV/EV test results in national laboratory-based surveillance and the percentage of positive EV-D68 test results in pediatric sentinel surveillance also increased during this time. Previous increases in EV-D68 respiratory illness have led to substantial resource demands in some hospitals and have also coincided with increases in cases of AFM (2), a rare but serious neurologic disease affecting the spinal cord. Therefore, clinicians should consider AFM in patients with acute flaccid limb weakness, especially after respiratory illness or fever, and ensure prompt hospitalization and referral to specialty care for such cases. Clinicians should also test for poliovirus infection in patients suspected of having AFM because of the clinical similarity to acute flaccid paralysis caused by poliovirus. Ongoing surveillance for EV-D68 is critical to ensuring preparedness for possible future increases in ARI and AFM.