Rare polio-like disease found in California

The researchers have once again come across the scare of polio as another polio-like disease has been discovered in California, where weakness or rapid paralysis in one or more arms and legs in five children here since 2012. The findings of the study are scheduled to be presented at the end of April at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia, PA.

Study researcher Dr. Keith Van Haren of Stanford University, says, “Although poliovirus has been eradicated from most parts of the world, other viruses can also injure the spine, leading to a polio-like syndrome.”

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According to Haren, the researchers have identified strains of enterovirus linked to polio-like outbreaks among children in Asia and Australia.

“These five new cases highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California,” he said.

Dr. Van Haren and his colleagues had noticed cases of this new polio-like disease at their medical centers and decided to find out how many there might be altogether in California.

Researchers took only those cases for the study that occurred over 12 months, excluding illnesses with similar symptoms. Only those samples were selected that were at the Neurologic and Surveillance Testing program in California between August 2012 and July 2013. Moreover, only those cases were included where the illness caused paralysis in one or more limbs, accompanied by spinal cord MRI scans that explained the paralysis.

Dr. Van Haren says their findings will help efforts to monitor, test and treat the mysterious disease.

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is an infectious viral disease that can strike at any age and make you physically disabled. The US has been polio-free since 1979, say the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to April 2013 report of the World Health Organization (WHO), they aim to eradicate polio by 2018. Polio was endemic in more than 125 countries in 1988. A series of immunization efforts helped in brining the incidence down by more than 99% since then.