Five California children have polio-like symptoms

Several California children are experiencing limb paralysis and problems breathing, symptoms similar to those caused by the poliovirus (shown).

GrahamColm/Wikimedia Commons

At least five, and possibly as many as 25, children in California have polio-like symptoms, including paralysis of limbs and breathing problems.

Tests show that the children do not have polio and that many have been vaccinated against it. Since the first case was reported in 2012, two patients have been diagnosed with enterovirus-68. The rare virus, which has been linked to severe breathing problems, is from the same family as poliovirus. The causes of the other cases have not been identified, and it is not clear if they are linked.

Scientists say the cases do not appear to represent an epidemic, although similar symptoms have also been reported in children in Asia and Australia. More information will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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