Polio-like illness a mystery in California

February 24, 2014

(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.

Explore further: Mysterious polio-like illness found in 5 California children

Related Stories

Mysterious polio-like illness found in 5 California children

February 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 ...

India marks three years since last polio case reported (Update)

January 13, 2014
India marked three years Monday since its last reported polio case, putting the country on course to being formally declared free of the disease later this year.

Israel launches nationwide polio booster campaign

August 18, 2013
Israel is launching a nationwide campaign to give a polio booster to all children under 9 after a rare discovery of the virus.

Polio cases in Pakistan pass 2012 total

November 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.

Turkey launches polio vaccination at Syria border

November 18, 2013
Turkey on Monday announced a mass vaccination campaign against an outbreak of polio in areas near neighbouring Syria.

Polio returns to Afghan capital after 13 years

February 11, 2014
Afghanistan has launched an emergency polio vaccination campaign in Kabul after a girl contracted the disease, the city's first case since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 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.