Researchers say they have strong new evidence that a virus is involved in a rare and puzzling polio-like condition that began affecting children in the U.S. about five years ago. The researchers hope their work will lead to a better test for the paralyzing condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which has been diagnosed in more than 500 kids since 2014.
The scientists used an experimental method to pull evidence of viral infections from the spinal fluid of 42 AFM patients. This technique turned up antibodies specific to enteroviruses, a group of viruses that includes the poliovirus. They also include the leading suspect for causing AFM, an enterovirus called EV-D68. The test also found evidence of other viral infections.
It’s not definitive evidence that EV-D68 has caused most or all of the recent cases of AFM, said Dr. Michael Wilson, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, who helped lead the research team. But it’s a big step toward proving enteroviruses are the culprits.
“These results offer a roadmap for rapid development of enteroviral cerebrospinal fluid antibody assays to enable efficient clinical diagnosis of enterovirus-associated AFM in the future,” Wilson and colleagues wrote.
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