A rare virus, distantly related to the Polio virus, may be the source of over 100 cases of mysterious paralysis in children across the United States. Mysterious clusters of paralysis were noted across the U.S. in groups of children. Doctors were unsure what caused the polio-like symptoms. However, new studies suggest that the paralysis was caused by a rare virus, Enterovirus D68.
The Daily Mail reports that clusters of children were found suffering from ongoing paralysis despite doctors’ best efforts to treat the patients. The paralysis, similar to that of the eradicated disease Polio, was unusual in that all of the children had suffered from respiratory viruses within three months of the onset of the paralysis. The mysterious illness left many doctors claiming that an unknown virus was being spread throughout the communities.
“There have been 107 cases in the US of mystery paralysis since September.”
However, new studies suggest that the virus to blame is actually Enterovirus D68, a distant relative of Polio. The virus was not unknown, but it was incredibly rare until the cluster outbreaks. The virus can be spread by coughing or sneezing and begins with symptoms similar to a standard respiratory infection. However, some of the children infected with the virus later present with varying degrees of paralysis.
Researchers at Purdue University are looking into possible treatments for the devastating illness. Purdue researchers say that the original strain of the Enterovirus D68 were discovered in 1962. They note that a few mutations have taken place since the original discovery of the virus, with no anti-viral treatments on the market currently able to combat the potentially debilitating virus.
“An upsurge of EV-D68 cases in the past few years has been seen in clusters of infections worldwide. In August 2014 an outbreak of mild-to-severe respiratory illnesses occurred among thousands of children in the United States of which 1,149 cases have been confirmed to be caused by EV-D68. The virus also has been associated with occasional neurological infections and ‘acute flaccid myelitis,’ characterized by symptoms including muscle weakness and paralysis. Although EV-D68 has emerged as a considerable global public health threat, there is no available vaccine or effective antiviral treatment.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, one study suggests that vaccinated children were more susceptible to the EV-D68 virus.
The researchers are working hand-in-hand with the CDC to isolate an anti-viral treatment for the Enterovirus D68. However, more information is needed to create an effective treatment. It is noted that the newer strains are not well enough understood to create effective compounds for treatment. Researchers claim that once the newer strains are better understood, the ongoing research could yield compounds that are effective against these strains.