STANFORD (CBS SF) – A mystery illness is causing paralysis in some California children, according to a study co-authored by UCSF and Stanford doctors.

At least five children have suffered weakness or paralysis in one or more limbs that resembled the damage of Polio, according to a release from the American Academy of Neurology.

“These five new cases highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California,” said co-author Emanuelle Waubant, MD, University of California-San Francisco.

The symptoms come on quickly, with paralysis reached within a couple of days. The sensation and movement did not return during a six month study period, and spinal scans show damage consistent with polio affliction.

“They are absolutely not a cluster because they don’t go to the same school or live in the same town. These cases have been seen over the past year and a half,” Waubant said.

Waubant said all the children had received the vaccinations against polio, though two had tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus previously associated with polio-like symptoms, according to the report.


“Although poliovirus has been eradicated from most of the globe, other viruses can also injure the spine, leading to a polio-like syndrome,” said Stanford co-author Keith Van Haren, MD in the AAN press release. “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,”

According to published reports, state health officials are also looking into the possibility that a virus is to blame.

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