Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Polio-Like Disease is Linked to an Enterovirus

Remember that outbreak in California a year ago of polio-like symptoms in more than 20 children? (See this blog Feb. 28, 2014.) It now appears that it is linked to a strain of enterovirus called EV-D68 that first appeared in California in1962.

Enteroviruses are a genus of single-stranded RNA viruses. The best-known enterovirus is the one that causes polio, but there are about 100 strains of non-polio enteroviruses as well; EV-D68 is one of them. Enteroviruses generally enter their victims via the respiratory system, producing primarily flu-like symptoms. But in some patients, EV-68 appears to migrate to the nervous system, where it causes partial or full paralysis of one or more limbs. The nervous system damage caused by EV-68 is not always reversible, and many of the children infected last year still have symptoms of paralysis from their infections.

So, we now know the cause. That's the first step; now we need a cure.

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