It’s spooky how much the virus linked to “polio-like illness” isn’t coming from immigrants

It’s important to read. Reading is a great way to learn about new things and other people and cultures. It can also help prevent you from opening your mouth and looking like an uninformed hate -mongering misanthrope. This is especially the case with areas that can be confusing, for example, “polio-like illness.

Because you probably are not that and don’t want to look like that, you might have already read this excellent piece from Ed Yong. It has all sorts of excellent detail about a virus that heads up a list of culprits causing periodic spikes in cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in the US. AFM occurs all around the world. The rise in US cases has been noteworthy every couple of years since 2012.

D58, enterovirus D68


EV-D68 capsid prediction. With thanks to Claire Y T Wang. This image is freely accessible on Figshare.

The virus, an enterovirus (EV) called D68, is easily spread and mostly causes colds, asthma exacerbations and other airway issues like pneumonia. Sometimes EV-D68 is found in respiratory tract samples collected from children with the very rare AFM; a neurological disease.

AFM has also been described as a “polio-like” illness that has been mostly identified from within the US but is also reported in Europe, Asia and South America. AFM is considered a better term than polio-like illness.


EV-D68 is not a new virus to the US of A

Maybe you checked out the dedicated US CDC webpage on EV-D68? Or the Wikipedia page? Maybe the page by the American Council on Science and Health?  How about this American Academy of Pediatrics story or this one in Vox, or this in the LA Times?

One thing the links above all have in common; they mention that EV-D68, was first discovered in children in California in 1962. Yeah, that California. The one in the US, where AFM cases are currently occurring. Not Central America, the current source of migrants fleeing corruption, gangs and poverty for a better life.

Facts matter

It’s just really disappointing that people out there are once again focussing their fear of, or dislike for, people-who-are-not-them and attacking a migrant caravan because, in their hearts, it fits their preferred narrative. In this story, all things different are the source of all things bad so it follows – for them anyway – that migrants must be the source of AFM cases occurring in the US now, right?

Those beliefs, as beliefs are sometimes prone to do, don’t hold up to scrutiny. They’re unfounded and, in my opinion, they are absolutely misplaced. Just another excuse to avoid looking in the mirror or learning new things.

It’s also pretty weak that during my search for those links, I found many more mainstream news pages that made no effort to clarify that EV-D68 is a well-entrenched US virus – despite all the xenophobic blather.

Learning requires time and effort. Facts are out there. This is why trustworthy sources are important for today’s fast-paced yet very angry world. If you don’t have the time to find the facts, create good bookmarks. Seek out expertise. Find brands you can trust and that speak your language.

Alternative facts

This latest claim targets a group of migrants as the sourced of a very rare, pre-existing and predominantly US-reported disease. 

Maybe – based on what we actually know to be true – the accusers should be more worried that the US is experiencing the bulk of AFM. Maybe the nations of the world should be concerned that the US is exporting the latest EV-D68 virus strain to their shores! Ahhhh!!!……hhh!!…….h!….

Of course, I don’t actually think that at all. EV-D68 is a global virus, found wherever it’s been sought using good laboratory tools. Even on the west and east coasts of Australia!

As the case-load of paralytic Polio has declined, smaller disease “signals” have become more obvious. Seemingly new diseases can be scary, but there are experts on the case worldwide. Things may move slowly, but they’re moving.

Read more people. Be open to learning and not so eager to inflame hate and propagate ignorance. Don’t be sucked in by those trying to push your buttons. They’re manipulating you and keeping you off-balance. Be better humans, not lazy malicious ones.


  1. The Main Suspect Behind an Ominous Spike in a Polio-like Illness
  2. Enterovirus D68
  3. Enterovirus 68
  4. The Mystery of the Paralyzed Children. Case Solved?
  5. Is EV-D68 infection a cause of acute flaccid myelitis in children?
  6. Enterovirus D68 is spreading across the US — what we know and don’t know
  7. Respiratory virus EV-D68 cases found in 4 Southern California children
  8. Why the caravan of 7,000 migrants is marching to the US border
  9. Acute Flaccid Myelitis of Unknown Etiology in California, 2012-2015.
  10. Presence of atopy increases the risk of asthma relapse.
  11. Enterovirus D68 disease and molecular epidemiology in Australia.
  12. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) capsid model

1 thought on “It’s spooky how much the virus linked to “polio-like illness” isn’t coming from immigrants”

  1. A breath of fresh air, thank you Ian! You know for sure that idiots are now ruling even my country (earlier there were other idiots too, but made less headlines…), and some of there blamed migrants for an unexplained (!) cluster of pneumonia cases in the wealthiest region of Italy (Lombardy, as rich as Bavaria or Luxembourg). Not only the crumbling public health system was not able do pinpoint the causes of the 750+ cases of severe respiratory illness, but with a good dose of bravery they discounted the massive amount of toxic waste dumped everywhere in the affected area as contributing factor for the ailments. What could be wrong with the Milan region, with all these luxury fashions boutiques and défilée? The answer? Too many migrants! Because is difficult to say that HCWs are not aware of IPC measures that are not consistently applied with great burden of avoidable morbidity and mortality, the infrastructure is depleted of resources and that corruption is sucking life from the system. So, thank you again, for that we may be in 2018 but the story seems to point toward 1918: Kaiser is the enemy… not Spanish Flu.

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