Polio-like syndrome affects 5 children in CA

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Polio-like syndrome has caused paralysis in five California children in the last 18 months.

Two years ago, Sofia Jarvis developed paralysis of her left arm over a period of days, and she has not recovered. That resembles what doctors used to see in patients with Polio before it was essentially eradicated by vaccine. But paralysis is paralysis.

Dr. Emmanuelle Wauband said, “They’re all the same type of disease. We have called that Polio-like syndrome because the presentation resembles what you would see with Polio many years ago.”

The disease resembles a viral infection of the spinal cord. The spinal cord is attached to the brain and within the cord are the nerve cells that control our muscles. They are arranged in particular areas within the cord.

Polio and some other viruses attack these cells and may destroy them. MRI scans show damage in the spinal cord in one of the California cases, which causes paralysis.

Police has a special tendency to attack the nervous system. So does rabies and West Nile Virus, though the latter only does so rarely. And that seems to be what’s going on in California. Other than paralysis, the cases don’t have much in common, and five cases in two years doesn’t qualify as an outbreak.

There probably will be more cases, and now that people are sensitized to it, any suspicious case will be reported.

However, there’s no evidence that this is disease has spread among children, and there are no common sources where they could have caught it or transmitted it.

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