On Oct. 3, 2014, Elisa Holt was nursing her six-month-old son Noah when she realized he wasn’t moving his feet, legs or toes. Panicked, she called her pediatrician at Garden City Pediatrics and was directed to Beverly Hospital.
“We are so thankful for the emergency room doctor [Dr. Munirah Qualls] who told us, ‘I don’t know. I’m going to send you to Boston Children’s Hospital.’”
Within 15 minutes, an ambulance arrived to rush Noah to Boston Children’s where the emergency department was on high alert for EV D-68.
A bedside spinal tap and initial lab results narrowed Noah’s diagnosis to either Guillain Barre Syndrome or a type of myelitis possibly caused by EV-D68. Both conditions can be treated with immunotherapy, so Noah’s doctors moved forward with treatment.
Then an MRI confirmed Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. “We don’t know if EV D68 is the cause of AFM. There’s epidemiologic evidence that suggests it is, but we don’t have hard data to suggest that’s the case,” explains Mark Gorman, MD, from the Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Neurology.
The unproven link between enterovirus and AFM is not the only mystery associated with the virus.