Enterovirus Could Be Causing Paralysis of Kids in Calif., Other States
Cases of paralysis among children in California and other states could be associated with a mutated strain of enterovirus D68, according to a UC-San Francisco study published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, the New York Times reports (Saint Louis, New York Times, 3/30).
By October 2014, 43 cases of the respiratory virus had been reported across California (California Healthline, 10/27/14).
Amid the outbreak, doctors across the country reported a rising number of cases in which children experience arm or leg weakness or complete paralysis, requiring them to be put on ventilators, according to the Washington Post's "To Your Health" (Eunjung Cha, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 3/30).
Specifically, 115 children in 34 states have developed such paralysis since August 2014, according to the Times.
Details of Study
For the study, UCSF researchers examined the genetic sequences of enterovirus D68 taken from 25 children with limb paralysis, 16 of whom had been treated at Children's Hospital Los Angeles or identified by the California Department of Public Health as early as June 2012.
Viruses found in the children were genetically similar and shared mutations resembling those in the poliovirus genome.
The researchers determined the viruses to be a new strain of the respiratory illness, called B1, which they estimated to have emerged more than four years ago (New York Times, 3/30).
According to "To Your Health," the mutated strain has just five or six coding differences from more common enterovirus strains, but the mutations were similar to sequencing in the poliovirus or EV-D70, another nerve-damaging virus.
Meanwhile, the findings suggested that the B1 strain can affect patients differently, depending on variations in an individual's biology. However, researchers could not find a definitive link, as no evidence of enterovirus was found in patients' spinal fluid.
The study authors recommended:
- Continuing research on enterovirus D68; and
- Developing an effective treatment or vaccine.
Researchers said they could not predict whether B1 would resurface during the upcoming enterovirus season ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 3/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.