‘Time to stop debating’: Researchers blame enterovirus for mysterious polio-like paralysis in kids

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Child with AFM. Image: PBS

A team of researchers has published evidence that an enterovirus is to blame for a mysterious neurologic illness that has paralyzed nearly 600 children in the US in the last few years. The study, described in June in bioRxiv and [October 21] in Nature Medicine, found that nearly 70 percent of children with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) have enterovirus-specific antibodies in their spinal fluid, compared to just 7 percent without the disease.

“The strength of this study is not just what was found, but also what was not found,” study coauthor Joe DeRisi.

“I think it’s time to stop debating” whether enteroviruses cause AFM, Raina MacIntyre, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who was not involved in the work, tells Science. “This is very strong evidence.”

The findings could help researchers begin to develop a vaccine for AFM, but questions remain about exactly how the condition and enteroviruses are linked. Enterovirus infections are common, and it’s not clear why only some infected children go on to develop AFM, nor why the disease is becoming more prevalent.

Related article:  Treating food allergies by tweaking the microbiome? Trials offer 'promising but mixed results'

Read full, original post: More Evidence that Enterovirus May Cause Kids’ Paralyzing Disease

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