Public Health England (PHE) is reporting 40 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (ACF) across the United Kingdom in 2018.
Typically, a handful of cases of AFP are reported to PHE each year for investigation. Up until August 2018, 6 cases of AFP occurred, which was then followed by a rapid rise in the number of people showing symptoms of AFP during September 2018. The number of reported cases peaked in October 2018 and have declined since.
Twelve cases of AFP have been associated with an enterovirus. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has been detected in 8 cases, EV-C104 in 1 and coxsackie B1 in 1. In 2 cases, the enterovirus was not typeable.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at PHE, said: “Our investigations into potential causes are ongoing, and we are continuing to build better awareness amongst health care professionals about how to test and manage patients with AFP.”
“We are not clear whether all of the apparent increase is real, or whether this represents increased awareness and diagnosis over recent years. The current best theory is that this is a very rare consequence of enterovirus infection, as the increase coincides with increases in infection,” she explained.
“EV-D68 has been found in around 1 quarter of cases. However, as the infection is very common, and most children have been infected by the age of 5 years, there must be other factors involved,” Dr Ramsay added.