Respiratory virus could be responsible for leaving children with ‘polio-like’ paralysis

More than 100 children in 34 US states have been left partially paralysed

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A new strain of a common respiratory virus could be causing polio-like paralysis in children across the US, researchers said on Monday.

Scientists believe that enterovirus 68 may have left 115 children in 34 US states with some paralysis in their limbs, according to a study published Monday in a medical journal called Lancet Infectious Diseases, the New York Times reported.


Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco determined the link between the virus and paralysis by analysing genetic sequences of enterovirus 68 taken from 25 children who had limb paralysis.

They found that the viruses were very similar, even having genetic mutations close to those found in poliovirus, the Times reported. Despite the similarities, many questions remain before scientists can say for sure that enterovirus 68 is causing paralysis.

But research indicates that it likely is a contributing factor.

Priya Duggal, the director of the genetic epidemiology program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said enterovirus probably has something to do with the paralysis, but “it must not be acting alone, because children with the same virus and siblings with the same clade have different outcomes.”

Of the 25 children with paralysis who were studied, not one has recovered completely, ABC News reported.