News Scan for Jan 16, 2015

More polio-like illnesses
Additional Disney-linked measles cases

CDC reports 4 more unexplained polio-like illnesses in children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed four more cases of a mysterious polio-like illness that causes limb weakness in children, raising the total since August to 107 in 34 states, according to an update yesterday.

Some of the children had respiratory illnesses caused by enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) before their limb weakness developed, but the CDC has not determined if the virus is the cause of the polio-like condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

A total of 1,153 EV-D68 cases, nearly all in children, have been reported in 49 states since August, according to the CDC. No new cases were added to that tally this week.

The agency said it is continuing to hunt for the cause of AFM by testing patients for a wide range of pathogens. Recently the CDC said only one child had fully recovered from the condition; about two-thirds had improved, but a third had no improvement.

Though EV-D68 was found in respiratory samples from some children with AFM, none of them had evidence of the virus in their cerebrospinal fluid, where it would be expected, given the nature of the illness.

In the quest to find the cause of AFM, the CDC has devised a test for antibodies to EV-D68, the New York Times reported this week. Investigators will try to determine if such antibodies are widespread in the general population. If they aren't, researchers can compare EV-D68 antibody levels in children with and without AFM; higher antibody levels in those who have the condition would suggest that EV-D68 is involved, the story said.

Researchers are also beginning to examine whether an immune reaction or genetic abnormalities play a role in causing AFM, the Times reported.
Jan 15 CDC update on AFM
Jan 12 New York Times story


California reports 13 more measles cases linked to Disney theme parks

California health officials confirmed 13 more cases of measles linked to the state's Disney theme parks, bringing the total to 39 cases reported in four states, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

Five case-patients with a fever and rash visited the Sharp-Rees-Steely Urgent Care Clinic in San Diego's La Mesa suburb on Jan 14, causing administrators to shut the clinic down and question other urgent care patients about their medical histories.

The San Diego Health and Human Services Agency said that the San Diego public may have been exposed to the infected people at the clinic, along with area drugstores, grocery stories, and gyms. Of the 10 total cases reported in San Diego County so far, only 1 person had been vaccinated against the highly contagious, airborne disease, according to the story.

The AP also reported that 5 of the new measles cases were reported in Los Angeles County. The new measles total includes 35 cases from California, 2 from Utah, 1 from Colorado, and 1 from Washington.

Patients had all visited Disney theme parks between Dec 15 and Dec 20, including Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, or had contact with someone who visited Disney parks in California, the AP said.
Jan 15 AP story
Jan 15 San Diego County news release on its cases

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