PHILADELPHIA, PA – Researchers have identified a polio-like syndrome in a cluster of children from California over a one-year period, according to a case report released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.
“Although poliovirus has been eradicated from most of the globe, other viruses can also injure the spine, leading to a polio-like syndrome,” said case report author Keith Van Haren, MD, with Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “In the past decade, newly identified strains of enterovirus have been 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.”
Polio is a contagious disease that sometimes caused paralysis. The United States experienced a polio epidemic in the 1950s, until a vaccine was introduced.
Van Haren said he and his colleagues noticed several of these cases at their medical centers and decided to look for similar cases in California. They reviewed all polio-like cases among children who had samples referred to California’s Neurologic and Surveillance Testing program from August 2012 to July 2013. Cases were included in the analysis if the children had paralysis affecting one or more limbs with abnormal MRI scans of the spinal cord that explained the paralysis. They did not include children who met criteria for Guillain-Barré syndrome and botulism, which can cause similar symptoms.
The five children experienced paralysis of one or more arms or legs that came on suddenly and reached the height of its severity within two days of onset. Three of the children had a respiratory illness before the symptoms began. All of the children had been previously vaccinated against poliovirus.
The children were treated but their symptoms did not improve and they still had poor limb function after six months. Two children tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus previously associated with polio-like symptoms. No cause was identified in the remaining three children.
“Our findings have important implications for disease surveillance, testing and treatment,” said Van Haren. “We would like to stress that this syndrome appears to be very, very rare. Any time a parent sees symptoms of paralysis in a child, the child should be seen by a doctor right away.”
The case report was supported by the McHugh/Sprague Award from the Lucile Packard Foundation.
Learn more about brain disease at American Academy of Neurology.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 27,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at its core, is the Bay Area’s largest health care enterprise exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. As the top-ranked children’s hospital in Northern California, and one of just 11 nationwide to be named on the 2016-17 U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll, Packard Children’s Hospital is a leader in world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty. Stanford Children’s Health offers care ranging from the routine to rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Together with Stanford Medicine physicians, nurses, and staff, Stanford Children’s Health can be accessed through partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary care practices at more than 60 locations across Northern California and 100 locations in the U.S. western region. As a non-profit, Stanford Children’s Health is committed to supporting the community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to training the next generation of doctors and medical professionals. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in 2016, Stanford Children’s Health looks forward to the fall 2017 debut of its expanded pediatric and obstetric hospital campus. Discover more at stanfordchildrens.org and on the Healthier, Happy Lives blog. Join Stanford Children’s Health on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.