Science and Health

Polio-Like Illness Baffles Doctors In California

A new virus is spreading in young children in California and its side effects are devastating. Researchers say it's similar to polio.

Polio-Like Illness Baffles Doctors In California
Wikimedia Commons / CDC

A rare disease affecting young children is mystifying doctors in California. 

"Twenty-five children, over the last three years, have come down with a mysterious polio like virus." (Via CNN)

"Young children across the state are reporting difficulty breathing and the inability to use their arms and legs." (Via MSNBC)

A leader of a team investigating the disease further describes the devastating side effects. 

"The afflicted kids suffer severe weakness or paralysis, which strikes rapidly -- sometimes after a mild respiratory illness. Scans of the patients' spinal cords show patterns of damage similar to that found in polio sufferers." (Via Los Angeles Times)

The U.S. was certified as polio-free in 1994 by the World Health Organization after a vaccine was developed. (Via Wikimedia Commons / CDC)

It's making it all the more confusing for researchers because they know it is similar to polio — they also know it is definitively not polio. 

Because as the BBC reports all of the infected children had previously been vaccinated for polio. Despite widespread media attention, the BBC said it doesn't expect the virus to reach epidemic status. 

Researchers aren't sure exactly what the virus is and are asking all doctors to report any cases of acute paralysis. The team investigating the disease is still trying to find the cause of the illness.