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Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) caused a large outbreak in the summer and fall of 2014 in the United States. It causes serious respiratory disease, but causation of associated paralysis is controversial, because the virus is not routinely identified in cerebrospinal fluid. To establish clinical correlates with human disease, we evaluated EV-D68 infection in non-lethal paralysis mouse models. Ten-day-old mice lacking interferon responses were injected intraperitoneally with the virus. Paralysis developed in hindlimbs. After six weeks of paralysis, the motor neurons were depleted due to viral infection. Hindlimb muscles were also infected and degenerating. Even at the earliest stage of paralysis, muscles were still infected and were degenerating, in addition to presence of virus in the spinal cord. To model natural respiratory infection, five-day-old mice were infected intranasally with EV-D68. Two of the four infected mice developed forelimb paralysis. The affected limbs had muscle disease, but no spinal cord infection was detected. The unique contributions of this study are that EV-D68 causes paralysis in mice, and that causation by muscle disease, with or without spinal cord disease, may help to resolve the controversy that the virus can cause paralysis, even if it cannot be identified in cerebrospinal fluid.

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