Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Health & Fitness
  3. Healthcare

A puzzling virus similar to the poliovirus infected 25 children in California

See also

A puzzling virus similar to the poliovirus infected 25 children in California. Five of the children are experiencing limb paralysis. Public health officials and medical researchers are on high alert.

More Photos

Recognizing the poliovirus and recent puzzling polio-like virus

Public health officials became aware of this new virus in 2012. In Berkeley, California, 2-year-old, Sofia Jarvis experienced difficulty breathing and started wheezing. Initially, doctors suspected she had asthma; however, after Sofie and her mother, Jessica Tomei, left the doctor's office, Jessica recognized something else was wrong with Sofia. Jessica expressed her concern:

"As we were leaving the doctor's office, I noticed that she went to grab something with her left arm and she stopped, midway."

Two years later, Sofia succumbed to weakness in her left leg and her left arm became paralyzed.

Last Sunday, Dr. Keith Van Haren, an instructor in neurology and neurological sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., provided a written statement as follows,

"These five new cases highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California. We would like to stress that this syndrome appears to be very, very rare. Any time a parent sees symptoms of paralysis in a child, the child should be seen by a doctor right away."

Polio and non-polio enterovirus

During the 19040s and early 1950s close to 35,000 people contracted the poliovirus in the U.S. This infectious disease spread from person to person, attacking brain cells and causing a paralysis of the spinal cord. However, by 1979, the U.S. eradicated the poliovirus with the use of a vaccine.

The poliovirus vaccine was also successful in getting rid of the virus globally with the exception of Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. According to health officials, a polio strain in Peshawar, Pakistan may compromise the global eradication efforts.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people in the United States are more likely to become infected with the non-polio enterovirus during the fall and summer months. Non-polio enteroviruses are very common viruses—each year, about 10 to 15 million people become infected with this infectious disease.

Poliovirus and Polio-like virus concern

Carol Glaser, chief of the encephalitis and special investigation section of the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento expressed this concern,

"The cause of most of these cases is not known. Some clinical and laboratory features, such as the pattern of inflammation seen in the spinal cord on MRI, are consistent with a viral process. There are too few cases of this emerging infectious polio-like syndrome illness to warrant an impending threat according to neurologists. The California Department of Public Health has asked health care providers to report any polio-like cases they might identify and send specimens so that we can better assess the situation."

Read more of George Zapo’s articles pertaining to public, global, and environmental health at his website:



  • Dan Savage
    Dan Savage cares about LGBT youth, bullying and saving lives
    Today's Buzz
  • Raku
    Teachers and students can use this summer to learn a new skill
    15 Photos
  • Beach body
    Fitness: Earn your beach body badge with bootcamp classes
    10 Photos
  • Greek wine
    Unwind with these delicious wines: The thrilling wines of Greece
    7 Photos
  • Mandy Moore
    Exclusive interview with Celebrity Mandy Moore concerning animal activism
    5 Photos
  • Educational family vacations
    Find out how to take an educational family vacation that doesn't break the bank
    9 Photos

Related Videos:

  • Top signs you’re suffering from dehydration: You may not be aware of
    <div class="video-info" data-id="517547845" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url=""></div>
  • Indulging more when feeling you're missing out on life?
    <div class="video-info" data-id="517618696" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url=""></div>
  • Applying mosquito repellent
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//;VQ=HD720&amp;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>