Health officials continue to investigate a mysterious illness that is causing polio-like symptoms targeting children in Colorado and at least two other states.
Ten children in the Denver area, ranging in age from one year to 18, have presented symptoms of a mysterious illness that has caused partial paralysis and/or muscle weakness according to Denver’s 9News.com. Health officials are investigating whether there is a connection between these symptoms and the children being infected with enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).
Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, where the affected children are being treated, report that while the children have exhibited varying degrees of muscle weakness, all of them have displayed some type of motor function disruption, cranial nerve dysfunction, and changes in their spinal gray matter. Additionally, KOAA.com reports that several of the children had some facial drooping, difficulty swallowing, and speech impairment. Several of the children were able to return home after spending a couple days in the hospital, four are still being treated, and one child remains in intensive care, requiring assistance for breathing and eating.
The children will continue to be monitored closely for years afterwards say doctors at Children’s Hospital, and the CDC has notified other hospitals around the country to be on the alert for similar symptoms or outbreaks.
Dr. Chris Nyquist of Children’s Hospital believes collaboration between hospitals is vital. “EV-D68 has spread throughout the country, so more and more hospitals are having children with severe respiratory illness infections, and so that’s why it’s really important for this collaboration and getting the word out to our other health provider colleagues to find out if there other cases because whatever is going on is not very common at all, it’s actually quite rare.”
Two other states have now reported patients with similar symptoms according to CNN.com on Thursday. Doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital have “…identified four patients with the same symptoms. And a child in Washtenaw County, Michigan, also developed partial paralysis in the lower limbs after being hospitalized with the virus.”
What is known thus far is that the majority of the children affected by the mystery illness were vaccinated against polio, and each case was preceded by a respiratory illness. Testing done by health officials is inconclusive, as only some of the children tested turned out to be positive for enterovirus D68.
Earlier this year in February 2014, at least five and as many as 20 children, all within a 100-mile radius in California, also developed a poliomyelitis-like paralysis. Five of those patients did not recover limb function. Like the cases in Denver, those children had been vaccinated against the poliovirus and had a mild respiratory illness which preceded the symptoms of muscle weakness and paralysis. Only two of those children tested positive for enterovirus D68.
Dr. Vincent Racaniello, Higgins Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University, has studied enteroviruses for more than 30 years, including poliovirus. After the outbreak in California, he speculated on those cases.
“Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) is the term used to describe the sudden onset weakness in limbs,” says Racaniello. “AFP can have many etiologies, including viruses, bacteria, toxins, and systemic disease.”
Professor Racaniello doesn’t believe that poliovirus is causing the paralysis. “The majority of the children were vaccinated against poliovirus, and even if the immunizations failed, it seems unlikely that wild-type polioviruses would be circulating in this area.”
So could the vaccinations be causing the paralysis? “Vaccine-derived polioviruses can cause paralysis, but the U.S. has not used this type of vaccine since 2000,” says Dr. Racaniello, referring to OPV, or orally-administered poliovirus vaccine. Currently, the U.S. uses IPV, which is given as a shot.
According to PreventDisease.com, however, the number one health threat affecting children is vaccines. “Vaccines, all vaccines, are immune suppressing; that is they depress our immune system; the virus present depresses immune function, and the foreign DNA/RNA from animal tissues depresses immunity. Chemical toxicity and depressed immunity likely make vaccines the number one long-term health threat to children.” Also, PreventDisease.com notes “There are also similarities to mycoplasma and to newly-discovered nanobacteria, currently considered to be the smallest forms of life and known to contaminate commercial vaccines. Nanobacteria are ubiquitous and may be involved in the pathology of many diseases currently considered of unknown cause.”
Millions of people deal with an enterovirus every year in the U.S., usually in the form of a cold. Occasionally, the illness turns more serious, requiring hospitalization. EV-D68 “…has been isolated from some of the paralyzed children,” says Dr. Racaniello, but “This isolation does not mean that the virus has caused the paralysis.”
“Enterovirus infections of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts are very common and often do not result in any signs of disease,” says Racaniello. “Enterovirus type 68 was first isolated in California (in 1962). The virus is known to cause clusters of acute respiratory disease, and there is at least one report of its association with central nervous system disease.” He believes “…it is an unlikely cause of the paralytic cases in California based solely on the past history of the virus and the fact that other enteroviruses are more likely to cause paralysis.”
Professor Racaniello furthers questions “…why enterovirus D68 would evolve to become substantially more neurotropic: entering the central nervous system is a dead end because the infection cannot be transmitted to a new host.” He prefaces his statements saying they’re “…pure speculation based on very little data and that the paralysis might not even be caused by an infection.”
“At this point a great deal of basic epidemiology needs to be done to solve the problem—if indeed it can be solved at all.”
Adding to already heightened fear levels, on Tuesday the CDC announced the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. But as Jon Rappoport of nomorefakenews.com reports, perhaps “The Dallas patient is being used to forward a fear/quarantine/vaccine agenda.” Maybe, as he notes, we need to “remember the infamous swine flu debacle of 1976” for perspective.
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