Acute flaccid myelitis associated with enterovirus-D68 infection in an otherwise healthy child

Susanna Esposito, Giovanna Chidini, Claudia Cinnante, Luisa Napolitano, Alberto Giannini, Leonardo Terranova, Hubert Niesters, Nicola Principi, Edoardo Calderini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reporting new cases of enterovirus (EV)-D68-associated acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is essential to understand how the virus causes neurological damage and to characterize EV-D68 strains associated with AFM. Case presentation: A previously healthy 4-year-old boy presented with sudden weakness and limited mobility in his left arm. Two days earlier, he had an upper respiratory illness with mild fever. At admission, his physical examination showed that the child was febrile (38.5 °C) and alert but had a stiff neck and weakness in his left arm, which was hypotonic and areflexic. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination showed a mild increase in white blood cell count (80/mm3, 41% neutrophils) and a slightly elevated protein concentration (76 gm/dL). Bacterial culture and molecular biology tests for detecting viral infection in CSF were negative. The patient was then treated with intravenous ceftriaxone and acyclovir. Despite therapy, within 24 h, the muscle weakness extended to all four limbs, which exhibited greatly reduced mobility. Due to his worsening clinical prognosis, the child was transferred to our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; at admission he was diagnosed with acute flaccid paralysis of all four limbs. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was negative, except for a focal signal alteration in the dorsal portion of the medulla oblongata, also involving the pontine tegmentum, whereas spine MRI showed an extensive signal alteration of the cervical and dorsal spinal cord reported as myelitis. Signal alteration was mainly localized in the central grey matter, most likely in the anterior horns. Molecular biology tests performed on nasopharyngeal aspirate and on bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were negative for bacteria but positive for EV-D68 clade B3. Plasmapheresis was performed and corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulins were administered. After 4 weeks of treatment, the signs and symptoms of AFM were significantly reduced, although some weakness and tingling remained in the patient's four limbs. MRI acquired after 3 weeks showed that the previously reported alterations were no longer present. Conclusion: This case suggests that EV-D68 is a neurotropic agent that can cause AFM and strains are circulating in Europe. EV-D68 disease surveillance is required to better understand EV-D68 pathology and to compare various strains that cause AFM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalVirology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 11 2017


  • Acute flaccid paralysis
  • Enterovirus D68
  • Neurological infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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