California health officials probe polio-like illness afflicting kids
By The Associated PressFeatures Clinical Patient Care
Feb. 24, 2014 — 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 public health officials have
been investigating the illness since a doctor requested polio testing
for a child with severe paralysis in 2012. Since then, similar cases
have sporadically been reported throughout the state.
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
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.
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