New Polio-Like Disease Identified In California

February 28, 2014

HandstandThere’s a new disease in town, and for some kids, it’s got a life-changing side-effect. Doctors are comparing it to Polio.

It strikes kids around the age of 12, and may present like a common cold. Only a few dozen cases of paralysis have been identified, but doctors think that many more children have had the disease without getting a debilitating result. They’re asking the CDC to help identify the virus, and asking the rest of the country to watch out for more cases.

Does immune system strength differentiate kids who end up paralyzed vs. kids who are unscathed? Or is it genetic? Is it isolated to California, or is that the only place where the doctors are actively looking for it?

So far there’s no treatment, mostly because the virus is indistinguishable from other respiratory illnesses until paralysis strikes (one girl has lost the use of her arm, for example, but is still able to dance and attend school). The only prevention is avoiding other children who are sick, and supporting your family’s immune systems so their body can destroy the virus easily.

Luckily, the US was able to eradicate Polio with a vaccine, so if this can be identified, it shouldn’t be hard to follow a similar path (sure, only a few are affected now, but disease of all types are spreading quickly these days).

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