Local doctor weighs in on California polio-like illness
Updated On: Feb 27 2014 05:53:01 AM CST
More than a dozen children in California are experiencing weakness and paralysis, which is believed to be from a polio-like illness.
While it is happening on the other side of the country, it's enough to scare any parent who hears about it.
Doctors say the rare disease is not polio, which was eradicated in the United States decades ago. However, a local doctor told 69 News what's happening in California has medical professionals here on alert.
"This recent news about an outbreak of a polio-like illness is understandably very scary," said Dr. Luther Rhodes, chief of hospital epidemiology and infection control at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
"It's definitely not the traditional polio virus which everyone in this country is vaccinated against," he said. "There is every reason, though, to suspect, as a leading suspect, another virus."
Researchers believe the rare disease is affecting about 20 children in California who, in the last 18 months, have developed weakness and paralysis.
Some of the affected children have had enterovirus-68, which is from the same family as polio. In some cases, children had respiratory symptoms before the arm or leg paralysis.
Dr. Rhodes said they have not seen any cases of polio-like illnesses in this area, but he has a message for parents:
"Particularly after a respiratory infection, if a child loses the function or becomes clumsy with an arm or a leg, and a parent will notice that, that should be brought to the attention of a doctor," he said.
Doctors in California are working to track the cases and hopefully learn what's causing this disease. They say at this point it appears to be a rare phenomenon.
The doctor who wrote a report about five of the early cases of the disease will present his report at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Philadelphia in April.
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