Doctors are struggling to figure out why mysterious polio-like illnesses have affected at least two-dozen California children recently. Public health officials say that the illnesses present symptoms such as paralysis or sever weakness in one or more of the limbs, and doctors are struggling to figure out why.
"What's we're seeing now is bad,” said Keith Van Haren, pediatric neurologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto. “The best-case scenario is complete loss of one limb, the worst is all four limbs, with respiratory insufficiency, as well. It's like the old polio.”
This startling find is obviously worrying many parents, and for those whose children have already been affected, the ordeal can only be described as terrifying.
"She went to grab a toy, and mid-grasp her arm stopped working," said Jessica Tomei, 4-year-old daughter Sofia came down with the mysterious illness in 2012.
Despite what seems like an alarming number of these cases in California, Van Haren says that parents shouldn’t panic.
"This is really very rare," said Van Haren. "But we are asking any families who notice a sudden onset of weakness to see their doctors immediately. Their doctors should contact the California Department of Public Health."
The one thing that doctors are certain of is that none of the illnesses are polio; they just exhibit similar symptoms of the disease.