Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that a virus is to blame for a mysterious illness that can start like the sniffles but quickly paralyze children. The poliolike syndrome, called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, is very rare. Since the first reports from California in 2012, the U.S. has experienced an increasingly bigger outbreak every other year, from late summer into fall. Doctors have a chief suspect but proof that it’s the culprit germ has been frustratingly elusive. So researchers tried a new trick: They checked patients’ spinal fluid for signs the immune system had fought an invading virus. Sure enough, kids who got sick harboured antibodies that target enteroviruses, just the viral family specialists believe is to blame. “This is circumstantial evidence that this is what’s going on, but it’s a powerful piece of circumstantial evidence,” said Dr. Michael Wilson of the University of California, San Francisco, who helped lead the research. His team reported the findings Monday in Nature Medicine. Nailing down a suspect is key to better diagnosis and eventually finding a way to prevent or treat the illness, said study co-author Dr. Riley Bove, a neurologist at the university whose own son developed AFM at… Read full this story
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