UK & World News
Polio-Like Illness Hits California Children
A polio-like illness has afflicted around 20 children in California in little more than a year, officials say.
Authorities are at a loss to explain the outbreak of the condition, which causes severe weakness or rapid paralysis in one or more limbs.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the matter surfaced after a doctor requested polio testing for a child with severe paralysis in 2012.
Polio has been eradicated in the US and the child had not travelled overseas.
Since then, other cases have been reported throughout the state, with all patients suffering severe weakness or paralysis, which strikes rapidly and sometimes after a mild respiratory illness.
Dr Carol Glaser, leader of a California Department of Public Health team investigating the illnesses, told the newspaper that a virus may play a role.
The virus, which is usually associated with respiratory illness but has also been linked to polio-like illnesses, was detected in two of the patients.
Dr Keith Van Haren, a paediatric neurologist at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital who has worked with Dr Glaser's team, said there had been around 20 cases.
Speaking of five patients whose cases he will present at an upcoming neurology conference, Dr Van Haren said they all 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 the disease.
Polio, a highly infectious illness, remains endemic in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
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