Polio-like illness a mystery in California

(AP)—A polio-like illness has afflicted a small number of children in California since 2012, causing severe weakness or rapid paralysis in one or more limbs.

The Los Angeles Times reports that state officials have been investigating the illness since a doctor requested testing for a child with severe paralysis in 2012. Since then, similar cases have sporadically been reported throughout the state.

Dr. Carol Glaser, leader of a California Department of Public Health team investigating the illnesses, called the doctor's request "concerning" because polio has been eradicated in the U.S. and the child had not traveled overseas.

The symptoms sometimes occur after a mild respiratory illness. Glaser said a virus that is usually associated with respiratory illness but which has also been linked to polio-like illnesses was detected in two of the patients.

Dr. Keith Van Haren, a pediatric neurologist at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital who has worked with Glaser's team, will present the cases of five of the children at the American Academy of Neurology's upcoming annual meeting.

He said all five patients had paralysis in one or more arms or legs that reached its full severity within two days. None had recovered limb function after six months.

"We know definitively that it isn't polio," Van Haren added, noting that all had been vaccinated against that disease.

Glaser wouldn't provide the number of illnesses. Van Haren said he was aware of around 20.

She urged doctors to report new cases of acute paralysis so that investigators can try to figure out a possible cause.

Related Stories

Mysterious polio-like illness found in 5 California children

date Feb 24, 2014

Researchers have identified a polio-like syndrome in a cluster of children from California over a one-year period, according to a case report that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting ...

Polio cases in Pakistan pass 2012 total

date Nov 13, 2013

Polio is on the rise in Pakistan, health officials said Wednesday, as the number of infections in 2013 passed the total for the whole of 2012.

Recommended for you

Time to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month to April?

date 10 hours ago

The month of May brings many things, among them Mother's Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem ...

An explanation of wild birds' role in avian flu outbreak

date 12 hours ago

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States. The H5N2 virus has cost Midwestern turkey and chicken producers almost 13 million birds since early March, including ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.