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 a hate-mongering misanthrope and don’t want to look like one, 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.

D68, 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 U.S. 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

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10 thoughts 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.

  2. Interesting how your article states with certainty that AFM is NOT coming from Central America and the influx of illegal and non-quarantined and unexamined immigrants. Yet in the same article you state that, “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!” In other words, you have NO clue, nor does anyone in the CDC have a clue whether there is a large concentration of the virus or other viruses that may be contributing factors to the spread of AFM because there are no “good laboratory tools” in vast portions of Central America and there certainly is NO ONE looking for the virus in Central America. The danger is NOT in people suspecting immigrants of being the source of diseases, there is NO danger in being overly careful regarding the spread of disease from large numbers of immigrants invading a country from 3rd world countries. The danger is when so-called scientists succumb to political correctness and liberal ideology and refuse to examine obvious possibilities and actually prove or disprove the issue with actual medical studies. Or are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS too holy and pure to be studied for diseases. And do hospital refuse to report whether patients are illegal immigrants. After all, what are tens of thousands of crippled children when weighed against a religiously held political ideology.

    1. “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.”

      Show me the counter-argument with data then. I’ve made my case. Saying “nope, I don’t believe you, ’cause” is great. If you’re happy with that. But if you have other evidence then I am very open to reading it. Present it. Present a solution to a problem. Accusations are not solutions.

      Are you saying that so-called “illegal immigrants” are more likely to have an infection than any other immigrant or traveller? Again, show me the evidence as it relates to AFM. I doubt you can.

      I think you’ll find that the health you enjoy is because “so-called scientists” work very hard to get answers to disease. But they look to the facts and to evidence and data. They don’t look to base their conclusions and advice just on gut feelings and personal bias. Not all the time, I’ll grant you, but most of the time.

  3. This is a heavily-spun propaganda piece, not a work of scholarship.
    Its agenda is to convince worried Americans that at least this one disease was not introduced into America by illegal aliens, unlike so many others
    It goes so far as to mock and vilify American parents for their worries and their need to know.
    After all, illegal aliens actually are responsible for bringing many diseases into our country that never existed here in the first place, or that had once been eradicated.

    The article tries to deny the possibility that this tropical disease could have originated outside the US because we are detecting it herem not there.
    But for all we know, it could be far more prevalent in South America than in the US.
    Apparently detecting it depends on good public health, which is not available in those countries.

    It makes people wonder about the origins of the disease when it first shows up in California, the land of Illegal Immigration.
    And it’s no comfort to point out that it surfaced as long ago as 1962. It’s not like California was not teeming with illegal immigrants in 1962.

    Its occurrence in other parts of the world could easily be due to Americans who were infected in their home states in the US and who then inadvertently distributed it to the places they travel to.

    So many horrible diseases are on the rise in the United States, dragged here by illiterate and uneducated people who have never had medical care, vaccinations, or public health measures.

    When they evade border control, they also evade health checks, so polio, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, measles, chicken pox, bed bugs, Zika, HIV, AIDS, cholera, intestinal parasites, dangerous strains of coliforms, malaria, dengue, leprosy, pneumonia, lice, antibiotic-resistant eye infections … all these are surfacing now as a result of criminal aliens’ border crashing and their working with — and defecating on — American food crops

    1. 1. This is a blog, not a piece of advice to government. Nonetheless, it has peer-reviewed scientific references to support its assertions.
      2. It calls out personal bias and unfounded assumptions based on fear and perhaps on racism
      3. It mocks no parent. Anywhere.
      4. If you have evidence to point to AFM being caused by EV-D68 transmission from immigrants (of which the US is founded of course, so technically, all current infection occur because of migrants) please present it. If you don’t can you not see how hate-filled such baseless accusations are and how hurtful and damaging they are to these people seeking your help and refuge? This blog post is written based on an understanding of this virus, its circulation, published literature and experience working with these ridiculously easy-to-transmit viruses. Yes, EV-D68 may be more prevalent in SA (I doubt that) but there is no evidence for that. There is evidence for it circulating in the US for much longer than the media stories I’m pointing to, have been in print. Try and keep the piece in the intended context. By the way, SA isn’t a wasteland with zero healthcare. There are global surveillance methods in place to pick up polio-like illness. While they are far from as good as they could be in some parts, I am confident other parts would detect higher levels of AFM than in the US (in fact they have if you read the piece).

      So while I disagree with most of what you have written, I agree with this: “Its occurrence in other parts of the world could easily be due to Americans who were infected in their home states in the US and who then inadvertently distributed it to the places they travel to.”

      You really need to learn about what you have in your own country and look to how well your own healthcare systems are working. I know that’s harder work, but life is hard. Hate, laziness and blind ignorance are easy.

  4. “I know that’s harder work, but life is hard. Hate, laziness and blind ignorance are easy.”

    This would apply to you yourself – MHO.

    I won’t spend much time (at a library where my research was always conducted) as I am elderly and have been on SSD since 1996 (building fire) but I have a background in legal and medical research, minor in City Government (NYC) (scholarship program at the NYC Health Department for AIDS, Education and Research), placement for an MA in health care, and worked for many law firms doing various research(and other degrees in science).
    As well, I met the Doctor who discovered the H.I.V. Virus – Dr. Robert Gallo (although it might have been discovered by others as well, as it’s debated).

    At that time (I was in NYC) it was not well known when symptoms first began appearing, and people started dying horrific deaths. There was much speculation (cancer, God’s revenge) but eventually, over time their was more clarity.

    I am sure this will occur with this virus.

    I am only saying that you know full well, anyone can write an opinion piece but full scholarly research shows all sides of the argument and the statistics to back up the research. In actuality (and the reason why PhD’s take so long) one has to show ALL related research then make one’s case and prove it with statistics. Your “blog” article is clearly one-sided and demeaning.

    What is most disturbing regarding your article is that it is biased – and you denigrate your audience with your choice of words – again a scholarly paper would not do this.

    BTW I do only natural therapies (I grew up with a mother in medicine, read her books and went natural). Our health care system is Rx care and the Pharmaceutical industry lobbies Congress to keep it that way. (the reason why Medicare will only pay for what this industry allows it to cover.

    Regardless, it cost the American tax payer multiple billions in Government services and more multiple billions due to illegal aliens being NOT vetted for diseases.

    I am from Oregon btw – I grew up picking fruit during college (summers off) with Mexicans during the 70’s. I lived in Boston attending Berlkee College of Music (Pianist was from Japan, and I sang with a black jazz ban) lived in NYC 33 with friends from Africa and other countries. I have travelled widely as well. So I guess if one disagrees with you regarding any healthy “critique” of your “blog” you’d call me a racist! Ok then – lol!

    You confuse (or deliberately spin) legality of the issue of illegal aliens with your own almost silly comments on other’s “preferred narrative” based on “People – who – are – not – like – them” – are you serious!!!

    “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.”

    I have to almost laugh at your taking yourself seriously.

    Here is ONE link of many showing the diseases that “are” brought in due to aliens being unvetted for health care issues.

  5. Ian: nice piece! Of course, it now turns out the virus (or immunity to it) is pretty much ubiquitous, meaning any discussion of its importation in any group of people, is pointless.

    As for the remark that illegal immigrants come from countries where they don’t get vaccinated – horseshit! Their vaccination status may well be BETTER than where they’re coming to, given the measles increase in the US recently!

    Keep up the good work!!

  6. It is interesting, to me anyway, that in your own cited article, the average prevalence of disease in Mexico and Central and South America is only 10x that found in the US, while it stated that in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia it is 100-150x that of the US but nowhere does it mention that we have been sending multitudes of troops and paid nonmilitary personnel to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for over 20 years now for these seemingly never-ending wars. Could it not be at least as likely that many of these diseases are being returned to the US after being contracted in these more highly contagious environments than just the illegal immigrants making their way into the US? It is interesting as well that illegal immigration has fallen over the past many years to an all time low, and yet the diseases are now more prevalent than ever, according to this article. What roll are the anti-vaxxers in the US playing on the prevalence of these numbers? Heavy migration from the Middle East into all parts of Europe and our continued high rate of vacation and business travel to these localities, who have had a drastic uptick in disease prevalence, also according to this cited article, should, one would think, also be factored in. How is it that an article of supposed true scientific research could not possibly have factored in all of these other parameters before deciding illegal immigration to the US must be the one and only likely cause?

  7. In my humble opinion, even if there was undeniable proof the condition was being brought in by immigrants, we would not know it. This might be just the thing that would increase support for Donald Trumps wall and enforcement of immigration laws that have been on the books for years and not enforced. We already know diseases are being reintroduced into our country by illegals: mumps, measles, TB and others. All of these can be life threatening but, I don’t feel Americans are taking these conditions as seriously as a disease that might leave a child crippled. Heaven forbid that we say or do anything that would be construed as racist, even at the risk of our children’s health or lives. There is no racism in the desire to close our borders and demand that immigrants come in the proper and legal way. There is no racism in wanting our children to grow up healthy and with a fair chance to acquire jobs with good wages that are not being taken by cheap labor of people in the country illegally.

    1. “Illegals” are brining in these diseases? What evidence do you have for this? Do you have actual health department numbers or just guesses? Paying travellers bring in diseases as well you know. They’re called tourists and business people. Probably far more cases come from returning American travellers. And AFM due to EV-D68 is *clearly* a US created and spread disease!! Most cases are there. The world should block our borders to Americans! !
      ….can you see how factless feelz and ranting can be misused?

      Let’s just find out the numbers before we use xenophobia to justify border closures or to accuse groups of anything.

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