written on 03.03.2014

Polio-like illness detected in California: Reports


A report published by Stanford University researcher and a pediatric neurologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Dr Keith Van Haren has pointed out at over 20 cases of a polio-like syndrome in California.
The report, which is to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, identifies five patients who developed paralysis in one or more of their limbs between August 2012 and July 2013.
News reports explained that all five children had been vaccinated against the poliovirus, but treatment did not seem to help the children regain their motor functions.
"Samples from two of those children tested positive for enterovirus 68, a rare virus that has been linked to severe respiratory illness in the past. Samples from the other three children were not collected or tested soon enough to yield conclusive results," said Dr Emmanuelle Waubant, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Further, Dr Van Haren said on the hospital’s website that about 20 cases have been identified in the US so far, all in California, and all occurring in the past 18 months.
Both Dr Waubant and Dr Haren however told the media that although they have found five cases, there are preliminary reports of several more.
Dr Carol Glaser, chief of the Encephalitis and Special Investigation Section at the California Department of Public Health, said the state is aware of the paralysis cases but believes the risk to families is low.
Media reports added that the poliovirus has been eradicated in the United States for more than 30 years. As per the World Health Organization, only three countries in the world are not yet free of the disease yet – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.