Polio-Like Illness Identified in 5 Children

A recent case report examined a polio-like syndrome has been identified in 5 California children over a one-year period. The U.S. experienced a polio epidemic in the 1950s before the vaccine was introduced.

Keith Van Haren, MD, with Stanford University, and colleagues reviewed all polio-like cases among children referred to California's Neurologic and Surveillance Testing program from August 2012–July 2013 after noticing several of these cases at their medical centers. Children with paralysis affecting one or more limbs with abnormal MRI scans of the spinal cord were included in the analysis.

RELATED: Infectious Disease Resource Center

Five children experienced sudden onset of paralysis of >1 arms or legs with its peak of severity within 2 days. Three of the children had a respiratory illness before the symptoms began and all were noted to have been previously vaccinated against poliovirus. Further, 2 children tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus previously associated with polio-like symptoms.

The children showed no improvement in symptoms after treatment and still demonstrated poor limb function after 6 months. Dr. Van Haren reported that these new cases “highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California.”

This case report will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting.

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