Polio-like Illness Claims Fifth Life in U.S.

At least five children infected with the respiratory illness known enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) have died in the U.S. in the past month.

The lastest confirmed victim was a four-year-old New Jersey boy, Eli Waller. He died at home on September 25. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the cause of death Friday night. But health officials say they have no idea how he contracted the virus. A health official says Eli was “asymptomatic and fine” when he went to bed but died overnight. He had no known preexisting immune weakness.

CDC Overview of EV-D68

A 10-year girl Rhode Island girl infected with EV-D68, Emily Otrando, died less than 24 hours after being rushed to the hospital with breathing problems. Three other patients with EV-D68 also died in September.

The CDC reports that in the past month and a half, at least 538 people in 43 states and the District of Columbia have become ill with EV-D68. Most of them are children and some developed limb paralysis. Polio, which can cause paralysis and death, is a type of enterovirus. EV-D68 is one of more than a hundred “non-polio” enteroviruses.