Unexplained paralysis in children after enterovirus outbreak has experts puzzled

A nationwide outbreak of a respiratory virus last fall sent droves of children to emergency departments. The infections have now subsided, as researchers knew they would, but they have left behind a frightening mystery.

Since August, 103 children in 34 states have had an unexplained, poliolike paralysis of an arm or leg. Each week, roughly three new cases of so-called acute flaccid myelitis (A.F.M) are still reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Is the virus, called enterovirus 68, really the culprit? Experts aren’t certain: Unexplained cases of paralysis in children happen every year, but they are usually scattered and unrelated. After unusual clusters of A.F.M. appeared this fall, enterovirus 68 became the leading suspect, and now teams of researchers are racing to figure out how it could have led to such damage.

And while enterovirus 68 is the prime suspect, the C.D.C. has not ruled out another infectious cause, said Mark A. Pallansch, the director of viral diseases.

At this point, it’s unclear whether paralysis will continue to affect clusters of children. But that possibility makes deducing its cause a priority.

Read full, original article: After Enterovirus 68 Outbreak, a Paralysis Mystery

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