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Riddle of polio-like childhood illness uncovered


Virus infection Cause menacing symptoms of paralysis in children

In recent years, children in Asia, Europe, Canada and the USA have increasingly been diagnosed with an enigmatic illness that is similar to polio in its symptoms. The cause of the childhood illness has so far remained unclear. Special viruses have now been identified as triggers. mystery

Australian scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, together with American colleagues from Arizona State University in Tempe, have identified the enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) as the cause of the enigmatic polio-like childhood disease. Using the so-called Bradford Hill criteria, the researchers were able to prove that the viruses were the cause of the paralysis symptoms in children in the USA, Canada and some Asian and European countries. The study was published in the specialist magazine "Eurosurveillance Journal".

Increased diseases since 2014

The University of New South Wales scientists, together with their American colleagues, have found convincing evidence that the "Enterovirus D68" (EV-D68) is responsible for the mysterious polio-like disease, reports the Ranke-Heinemann Institute as an Australian-New Zealander University network from the study results. "In 2014, the puzzling disease known as acute flaccid spinal inflammation was diagnosed in the first children in America," explains study director Prof. Raina MacIntyre, director at the Australian NHMRC Center for Research Excellence in Epidemic Response. To date, over 120 children have been affected by the disease, but the cause has so far remained unclear.

Virus infections also increased significantly

In parallel to the strange diseases of the children, the researchers found an above-average outbreak rate of infections with EV-D68, a virus that has been known since the early 1960s and leads to cold symptoms, muscle pain, fever and breathing disorders. In the United States, Canada, and some Asian and European countries, around 2,280 people fell ill, including many children who had symptoms that were worse, the researchers report.

Proof of medical causality

Since there were also many debilitating diseases in children in the regions with many EV-D68, it was reasonable to suspect "that there must be a connection between EV-D68 and acute flaccid spinal inflammation," said Prof. MacIntyre. So far, however, it has not been known that the virus can also cause paralysis. The scientists therefore carried out a literature analysis based on the Bradford Hill criterion regarding acute flaccid spinal inflammation. The method serves to prove medical causalities and was used among other things to prove the connection between smoking and cancer.

EV-D68 most likely the cause

"We are the first to use this approach to demonstrate a connection between EV-D68 and acute flaccid spinal inflammation," emphasizes Prof. The current results confirm, "that EV-D68 is highly likely to be the cause of the puzzling disease and the Paralysis of the children is “, the expert continues. This connection must now be recognized so that new preventive measures can be initiated.

Prevent spread

Overall, the occurrence of EV-D68 is increasing rapidly worldwide, the experts warn. There is currently no medical treatment and no vaccine for the polio-like disease caused by EV-D68. It is therefore all the more important to prevent further spread. Appropriate hygiene measures such as washing hands with soap for 20 seconds can already prevent the spread. (fp)

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